Blackout Follow Up
On Tuesday June 2 all of our ABG social media accounts participated in the Blackout Tuesday trend to show support for justice in the cases of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. We posted a solid black photo on each account and posted no other content for the duration of the day. It is important that Amendments IV, V, VI, VII, and VIII protect the the rights of all Americans regardless of race, sex, or class. That’s the promise of America.
Equal justice under law is a good start. It is pivotal in building healthy black communities. Rather than split hairs about statistics let’s just say these three people are dead and there’s no good reason for any one of them to be dead. Americans have to have a reasonable expectation of safety from police and vigilantes. We cannot have law and order when the enforcement is not subject to the same laws.
I say it’s a good start because there are other issues we need to consider.
Now would be an excellent time for McIntosh County to reverse their asinine property tax increases on the Gullah/Geechee people on Sapelo Island. A few years back islanders received notice of tax increases, some as high as 1000%. The island has no police or fire coverage, no schools, and the county does not adequately maintain the roads. But residents now have tax bills that they cannot afford. This is a shameless land grab. The islanders have tried legal avenues to defend their property but it doesn’t look good for them.
The Mississippi Delta is one of the richest expanses of farmland in the world. This alluvial floodplain was harnessed by plantation owners in the 1800s and a cotton empire was built with slave labor. These days the biggest landowners are Wall Street hedge funds. TIAA, Hancock, AgriVest, and other pension funds gobbled up this land and now rent it to farmers. While that’s building wealth for investors (quite possibly you and I via 401 accounts) it is doing little to build wealth for the farmers, many of whom had the land scammed out from under them or their ancestors. We’re not saying that the hedge funds should just give the land away but finding a reasonable deal to let these farmers purchase their farms would allow them to build wealth and have something of an inheritance to offer their offspring. I’m citing the Delta here because of the broad example it creates. This phenomenon is happening throughout rural America though.
Honestly one of the biggest things that could be done right now is to get out of the way. I’ll use the example relayed to me by online food delivery service drivers in Atlanta. There’s a black-owned restaurant in Atlanta. You can’t go there to eat. They only operate via online delivery service. I’m not outing the restaurant, the delivery service, or even the drivers because the federal, state, and local governments will run this guy out of business for operating a restaurant out of his home. His customers love his products. More power to him.
We can build a stronger, broader economy by encouraging investment in black owned businesses. This means restaurants, banks, grocery stores, insurance companies, clothing stores, farms, whatever, you name it. This will solve food deserts and economic stagnation. It’s not only building the economy in black communities, more people in business is better for the economy at large. Yes, there are communities that have crime problems but they can be solved by better public relations by police forces becoming more involved in the community. Build trust, share respect, make progress.
Again, the best thing we can do is get out of the way. Let entrepreneurs, engineers, artists, and scientists do their thing. Let up on some regulations, don’t usurp attempts to build generational wealth, and for goodness sake, stop killing people.
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Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire