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Creating a Movement: Economic Activism 2.0-- We Need you to create an economic community!

posted Feb 17, 2017, 8:32 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Feb 17, 2017, 9:39 AM ]

Thanks to all of you. We are in the early stages of a new community and a new wave of a movement: Economic Activism 2.0. We need feedback from you to make economic activism more comprehensive, more accessible to all, and create a forum that allows everyone to inform the movement. In this spirit, please consider giving us your feedback in this survey to help us.  

Too many programs have been created without the input of the people. Let's make a difference! Tell us the best ways we can reach you, the best ways to get your feedback. Share this survey with your family, friends, and others interested in combating economic injustice.

Historic images of African American life from the Afro-American Newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland - If you can't shop there, don't work there, 1940. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

"If you can't shop there, don't work there", 1940. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

Community Diary by Rahni S.

The AC Pharos will be the first to focus on making activism more accessible to people the most affected by injustice. This is particularly important for economic injustice because many people are limited in contributing to the movement. Therefore, this community is a continuous experiment: how can everyone contribute, with emphasis on voices of those most effected by economic injustice informing the movement?


Illustration of Economic Activism 1.0: The Black Economic Sanctions

Past economic activism, Economic Activism 1.0, required changing spending habits. Black History Month, we recognize the bus boycotts and the economic sanctions placed on the mainstream businesses while black people were denied their unalienable rights.


The mantra was "Don't Buy Where You Can't Work", which had many iterations starting even in the depression era. This organization had a large impact on the development of the South. It is noted that there is a strong correlation between racism and economic development. Many places where people did not, and continue to not, recognize the rights of black people were left behind in development.  Places where Civil Rights were respected developed and grew into the metropolitan areas of the South, which is an  expected outcome given historical context. Economist Deirde Mccloskey argues that wealth always  follows social equality 

Further, it's a fact that "alternative right" ideals scapegoat people of color as the reason for the decline of rural America, totally ignoring actual factors. However, the difference between economic activism for black people, in particular prior to the Civil Rights gains, and economic activism for the black community now are the effects of desegregation. Desegregation was considered a gain for black people. It ensured that black people will receive equal service with whites in America, as everyone should. However, desegregation also created the breakdown of black owned business. Interviewing my late father Rodney Sumler, a very well-known black business owner and activist starting in the 1960s, he said that desegregation without systems in place to support businesses in black community created our current situation. When black buying power had more options, the black owned businesses were forced to compete with the mainstream businesses with virtually no support.

Economic Activism 2.0: Adapting to the Current Economic Climate

At that time, mainstream meant large companies that still exist today like Macy's JCPenney's Sears. All of the black owned businesses, in this example black boutiques, were quickly annihilated. Now there is still very little support for black owned businesses and other small businesses in comparison to  mega-corporations. With influence of mega-corporations, people still have few choices when getting goods and services. This is the problem that this community will discuss deeply and generate community backed solutions.


Strengthening small business and minority-owned business will give us more power when practicing economic boycotts. However, another difference between historical boycotts and modern attempts boycotting are wages. The gap between wages and cost of living are very large. In comparison between the generations at their peak earning years, the Baby Boomers had much more buying power in their Peak earning years then Millennials now in theirs. Baby boomers were able to support families and buy homes often with one salary job. Many millennials are not buy houses and cars because decreased earning potential.  Reference


With reduced buying power this makes economic boycott often an unrealistic goal. Large corporations can often offer their products and services for much cheaper then smaller more ethical businesses. With few buying power many are forced to buy from the mega-corporations. This community will also address this issue. We need to increase our buying power and find more equitable ways a contributing to the movement.

Movements Take Community: We need You!

Creating a  community small businesses that serve us and finding ways for everyone to inform the movement are two issues among many here at AC Pharos. I invite you to fill the survey and to submit any other issues we should be focusing on

 To create a movement takes people. For Economic Activism 2.0 to perform with impact will require many perspectives.

Own this time and together we will make a difference.