Photo: Brian L. Frank
NBA players made the bold move to sit out the rest of this season. Major League Baseball, Soccer and the WNBA have also decided on work stoppages and now there is talk about a larger, broader labor stoppage. Black workers in various industries are talking about walking off the job but Black people aren’t necessarily ready for a larger work stoppage. It takes more than passion to successfully withdraw from a system of white supremacy and much of the groundwork hasn’t been laid.
The wealth gap between whites and Blacks is immense. When labor unions plan strikes, they do so having already paid into a strike fund that will help support workers in the meantime. LeBron James has plenty saved up and can skip games, the average Black laborer simply can’t skip a check. Further, if Black people don’t produce goods for white companies, where will they be sourced? Black people simply haven’t developed the manufacturing and industrial capacity to produce everything the community needs. Simply put, Black people are still too dependent on other communities, even for the most basic goods and services. A mass, Black labor strike may hurt “the man” today but it’s very likely that tomorrow Black folks would feel the pain, also.
Black people have protested for years with the goal of better treatment and concessions from whites. The larger focus, however should be on independence and self determination. Given this country’s history of racism, Black people should look to produce for and rely on Black people alone. To depend on the same people who think nothing of shooting you in the back is non-sensical. Still, from food to clothing, transportation to shelter, Black people source most everything from outside of the community. Even Black activism is largely dependent on social media platforms that are white owned. Ultimately, it’s simply not practical to withdraw overnight from one system if you haven’t done the work to be self-reliant.
Boycotting without production only leads to starvation. Labor strikes lead to poverty, if you don’t have your own industries. There is a national mood of protest and with that, the desire to suddenly withdraw Black dollars and labor to hurt the system. More energy, however, is needed on creating sustainability and independence from the systems Black people hate.