OP-ED:F&$K The Seat at the Table, Build Your Own Table- Published by AFROPUNK
One rainy Saturday in July, I was at the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival representing my apparel and multimedia firm Libre Brand, when I heard the master of ceremonies comment on racial discrimination in the United States. "We need a seat at the table too," he said (or something to that effect) which immediately irritated and exasperated me. It is my understanding that one of the reasons why Black people in America are suffering from economic and cultural impoverishment is their quixotical and mythological belief that positive “race relations” or progress for Black people will come from having a “seat at the table.” R&B singer, Solange Knowles recently released an exceptional album entitled “Seat at the Table” which really inspired the title of this article. When one refers to the “seat at the table”, one might be referring to affirmative action which has been a largely unsuccessful program which only benefitted a select few from the African American community, while the rates of poverty, economic stagnation, unemployment, high school and collegiate attrition continued to rise. Even with Black C.E.O.s and Presidents of Fortune 500 Companies, Black Mayors, Black Councilmen, Black Governors, Black Senators, Black Congressmen and even a Black President, “a seat at the table” isn’t enough to alleviate the 'niggerization' of Black culture or, to put it mildly, the cultural impoverishment of the Black community. Interestingly enough, only 27.4% of African Americans are living in economic poverty while 96.1% of families in poverty in America have a television in the household and African Americans watch television 1.2 times more than the general American population. Hence the problem in the African American community is not economic poverty since the minority of African Americans live below the poverty line but instead, the primary problem is the cultural and psychological poverty which has a combination of factors. I will expound on other factors throughout my articles but the main one is the dependency complex inherent in the Black community with us having the expectation of another ethnicity to grant us a “seat at the table”. Such expectations are due to the history of victimization that Black people have experienced in America and the newfound ethnic pride and consciousness that has been reached by some members of the Black community. It is certainly commendable to see the increasing consciousness or “wokeness” in the African American community, but if this consciousness is not going to enable self-sufficiency and prosperity then this “wokeness” is worthless. What I notice in almost the entire African American community is something that I call the ethnocentric entitlement. Essentially, this term means that one’s cultural pride and awareness of the discrimination inflicted upon one's group demands that the most powerful social, economic and political charter group should assimilate them into their system as a form of settlement and conciliation. In actuality, no ethnicity has prospered economically or politically through begging or pleading for a “seat at the table” from an aggregate of people who benefit whether they’re at the table or not. Throughout history, various minority groups have excelled economically only by “building their own table” and making the rest of the racially discriminated driven society depend on the economic output of the minority group for their well being mainly through entrepreneurship and education which enabled employment. The Lebanese of West Africa, the Chinese of Southeast Asia, the Gujuratis of East Africa, the Jews of the United States and Imperial Germany, the Tamils in Sri Lanka and various other ethnicities did not rely on the charter or powerful group to assimilate or accept them. Instead, they used their collective skills to “build their own table” and usurp their economy through the demands of the free market which doesn’t care about race, religion, color, creed, national origin, etc. The key factor for success in the free market is if you have a demandable and utilizable product or service that the consumer is willing to purchase for a price that is mutually beneficial to the producer and the consumer whether they like one another or not!! Hence, the focus is not to get socially accepted but to be socio-economically respected and compensated!!! The need for a “seat at the table” is what causes intra-group conflicts in the Black community and interracial conflicts in the United States and globally. The “seat at the table” complex causes intra-group conflict because it causes Black people to be mischievous, cut-throat and negligent towards one another just to seek validation, acceptance or “a seat at the table” from the socio-economically powerful group. Additionally, the “seat at the table complex” causes interracial conflict with other groups because some of the titles of the Civil Rights Act involving the private sector and affirmative action forces employers to hire a certain amount of African Americans and members of other so called “minority groups” even if they don’t fulfill the necessary obligations and qualifications for these positions. These policies sometimes exclude qualified African Americans from fulfilling the same positions because they’re either overlooked or lack the connections with these employers to gain these positions. Additionally, these policies impede the progress of a lot of businesses in the name of equality because the net effect of the policies is the firing or termination of unskilled and unqualified Black workers which contributes to high unemployment in the Black community. No individual or ethnic group has an obligation to like you or accept you into their private establishment as an employee or customer and in the free market, this would be an economic and entrepreneurial opportunity to cater to the discriminated communities that demand your products, services or jobs. Once you start a business catering to the discriminated communities who demand your products and services and the business prospers, then the discriminatory or racist businesses or establishments will have no other choice but to put their racist sentiments aside in order for their business to survive. Hence, the free market is a determining factor to enhance the wealth and progress of the Black community and to better race relations since discrimination can curtail or hinder economic growth. Entitlement to the “seat at the table” is an overrated philosophy which is impeding the progress of the Black community! For example if a city has a population of 2 million people and 70% of the population is 14-20 and all of the diners decided to discriminate against youngsters between the ages of 14-20, then that would be an entrepreneurial opportunity for me and likeminded individuals to cater to people between the ages of 14-20 and guess who will accumulate riches overnight?!!!! Therefore, it makes sense to F$%K that seat at that table and build your own table!!! Get with the program and we’ll see the changes that we’ve been demanding and waiting for! P.S. Solange’s album was phenomenal! I don’t want any misinterpretations or I may need my own elevator too!