Thoughts on politics, religion, violence, inequality, social control, change, and random other things from an autonomous, analytical, adopted, abolitionist, anarchist who likes the letter A

Submissive Education

June 16, 2009 By: Mel Category: Education, Work

In one of Maggie Anderson’s interviews about the Empowerment Experiment (her effort to buy from black owned businesses for a year), she talks about how hard it is to find black owned businesses. She felt that, black people having been in this country for so long, it shouldn’t be so hard to find black entrepreneurs.

Which got me thinking. Maybe it is in part because of being from this country that African Americans entrepreneurs are harder to find. Is our education and socialization system creating workers that obey rather than entrepreneurs that innovate?

When I was a kid, my father had a little office supply business. He used to leave the house every morning to go out and “make” a living. Today, you only hear people talk in terms of “earning” a living.

Education, as William Astore wrote in his article Selling Education, Manufacturing Technocrats, Torturing Souls: The Tyranny of Being Practical, has become about “a better job, higher salary, more marketable skills, and more impressive credentials.”

Note the focus on others opinions. Focusing on “marketable skills” means finding out what some employer wants and then learning it. (Convenient for them as they no longer have to provide training before they start making money off of you.) “Impressive credentials” means focusing on looking good to the powers that be, rather than contributing something useful to society.

Interestingly, immigrants are 30% more likely to start a business. Perhaps the type of people who immigrate are naturally more comfortable with risk. Maybe they can’t find good work elsewhere. Or maybe, some of these immigrants have not been trained to be compliant workers by our educational system.

Just a thought.

White People Lose it Over Buy Black Experiment

June 09, 2009 By: Mel Category: Seeking, Stratification

One of the people I follow on twitter linked to this story with the comment that it was racist. The article is about an African American couple in Chicago (John and Maggie Anderson) who have decided to only buy from black owned businesses for one year. It’s called the Empowerment Experiment and WOW do some white people have their panties in a bunch over it.

A typical comment goes something like this – If a white person said they were going to buy only from white owned businesses, then it would be racist. So the other way around is racist too.


Newsflash. Most white people do only buy from white owned businesses. In fact, a whole lot of non-white people buy from only white owned businesses. In fact, even the woman who started the buy black experiment, who lives in a predominantly white suburb, said in her NPR interview “none of my money went to black businesses last year.”

I lived in Santa Cruz, California for six years. Santa Cruz residents have a very strong preference for supporting locally owned businesses and keeping money in the Santa Cruz community. Santa Cruz is 90% white.

The number of black owned businesses is so small that the U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t even put down a percentage. It just says “S: Suppressed; does not meet publication standards.” Hispanic owned firms also get the big “Suppressed.” In other words, those “Buy Local” bumper stickers around town may as well say “Buy White.”

Does that mean I think people in Santa Cruz are wrong to support local businesses? No. Because, like the couple that decided to buy only from black owned businesses for a year, the intent is to spend money in a way that supports a more just world.

Does that mean there should be no discussion about those kinds of choices? No, because the local store may be owned by the grand puba of the KKK. And a black entrepreneur could be selling products made in a sweatshop.

But those are thoughtful discussions that reasonable people ought to be having. Instead, what we get are comments like this gem over on the Famuan:

Hey bmc if you told 10 white people about this stupid ebony experiment, 10 out of 10 would boycott anything black. weather be shoes of shaq, or golf clubs of tiger, stupid music of kanye. And obviously because of your childish fatherless culture way of thinking your missing the point, by the way because of this story I have boycotted anything black, Look the black community needs to stop acting like thoughtless neanderthals, stop acting childish and at least pretend you have a daddy, As someone has said made a very great valid point.. get off this Hip Hop prison jail metality culture, dont cry about what white people say, and change your so called black communitys flaws

I know I’ve been around too long to be surprised at this kind of shit, but I can’t help it. You’d think people would at least have the sense to be ashamed of their ignorance.

The irony is that addressing what the Anderson’s see as a flaw in the black community is exactly what they are trying to do with the Ebony Experiment. As well-off black people who “made it” and left their blighted inner-city neighborhoods behind, they felt they were part of the problem. Their experiment is about seeing if, by spending their money in the black community, they can help those struggling black communities.

They aren’t advocating that every black person buy only from black people. In fact, they repeatedly call their commitment “extreme.” Their extreme measure is meant, not only to start a conversation, but to collect real data that shows how individuals can make a difference by changing their spending habits

One commenter on the Wall Street Journal said

Right now I buy based on convienence and price. I know nothing of the owner and nor do I really want to concern myself with this issue of his color his politics or his lifestyle.

That’s the real problem. If we all just buy based on convenience and price then we support some truly heinous things, all in the name of saving a few minutes or a few bucks. What if that cheap thing was made by children or slaves? What if the company who grew your bananas poisoned its workers? What if that Coca Cola you love so much is only cheap because goons beat labor organizers to death?

What if our not paying attention to who we buy from ensures a large portion of Americans remain in perpetual poverty?