Conversations We Are Not Having – A Black Youth Project Economic Justice Series: Next Time Never Comes
By: John A. Walton
The story of the African American in the United States is unique in that it centers on a constant need for one race of citizens to struggle against color discrimination in every walk of life. Historically, this struggle was defined through collective action aimed at restoring access to the continuum of individual rights and government powers under the U.S. Constitution. Successful past traditions of African American leadership were based on morality, societal norms and culture, which are for the most part, proving to be ill equipped to address and counter the abstract nature of modern economic and financial narratives promoted by mathematics and statistics.
Unlike political and social change, which has not proceeded evenly but with measurable and sometimes rapid advancements, positive economic change has been much slower to materialize, because while the former is domestic, transparent and mostly visible, the economic and financial system is global, opaque and mostly invisible.
A shift in thinking about the narrative supporting the world monetary system is critical to future generations. Without such a shift in thinking young African Americans will never have the individual self-confidence required for full and effective participation in the political, civic and economic life of the United States and the world.
The root causes of African American economic and financial inequality include weak affirmative action policies and enforcement; but to a much greater extent, are caused by a failure to comprehend the impact of fundamental changes of the world monetary system. Like voting and civil rights, African American voices on economic and financial issues have been silenced for centuries by strategic disenfranchisement. Prior to 1968, and for reasons of disenfranchisement, this failure to comprehend is excusable. Inexcusable over the succeeding 40 years, and especially since the economic and financial system collapsed in 2008, is a continuing belief that the financial inequality gap can be closed simply with more jobs, and without a significant shift in African American thinking about the definitions, applications and practices of economics, finance and money.
The United States is the most powerful nation in the world and the primary source of its money supply since WWII. The consequences to African Americans of this position were seeded by the acceleration of the world supply of U.S. money after 1968, which is reflected in the lost jobs, stagnant wages and continued lack of proportionate access to the U.S. supply of money for investment to participate in the creation of national wealth. The true exports of the United States are theories on property rights, rule of law, free trade and full, faith and credit, while its principal imports are cheap goods and labor and the world’s natural resources. If this sounds all too familiar, it should. American style capitalism has been present in laws and policies of our nation enacted and enforced during the periods of enclosure, emancipation, reconstruction, the civil rights movement and the 2008 financial and economic collapse. Today African Americans are being denied a voice and assigned a place in the worldwide narrative of modern economic and finance theory by fellow citizens and the world that again will not be of our own telling, for lack of doing.