Saturday, January 21, 2017

Cultural Capital in a Post Obama America

Tulsa Oklahoma: Black Wall Street

Culture is our way of life; the sum total of all of our people activities, including commerce, and how we produce, manage and grow capital [wealth]. This all starts with identity, how we relate to each other, knowing our worth and not selling ourselves short, or selling out, by how we live.

Sometimes poverty has little to do with not having any money. People can be poor, and remain poor, simply because they lack "Cultural Capital", regardless how much money they have. When a person doesn't know or embrace their heritage, they don't have access to a rich ancestral legacy. This wealth of experience and insight is like untouched cultural capital sitting in a genealogy bank.., accruing interest.., for hundreds maybe thousands of years. Without this access, a person now has limited capital, resources and relationships to build something of value their future generations can inherit. One of the greatest forms of financial literacy, and wealth building, is learning the value of one's culture. A culture's value is its worth and importance. Consider American culture for example. This hodgepodge of various cultural influences/ideas is the United States greatest export -even in embargoed countries. 

I've continually seen the slogan to support black/minority businesses which is great as an economic stimulus yet ineffective as a system in and of itself. Supporting black/minority businesses has minimal impact in shaping, controlling and protecting an economy when its members have a limited understanding of Cultural Capital. Cultural Capital is similar to Social Capital; the network of relationships and resources that form the basis of an economy. In this regard, Cultural Capital is a network of relationships and resources rooted in shared customs, principles and values that mark a people's way of life. It's defined by reciprocity, trust and the cooperation of group members who systematically share and maintain the same resources and cultural interests. Thus this system of shared resources and cultural interests existed before money and is ultimately rooted in our relationships.

It's not enough to simply support a local business because it's black owned. That business could be owned by black people who don't share the same cultural interests as us and who are just as parasitic as other ethnic groups who capitalize off of our patronage without supporting our community they're taking from. It's not about putting money in another black person's pocket. It's about investing in businesses, products and services, that mutually support the growth and development of our families and communities. I was recently listening to a podcast interview with Pusha T speaking about his clothing line/stores Play Cloths and Creme and how acquiring accounts from higher end designers is often challenging. Even though he has been lyrically/visually one of the biggest brand supporters of the Givenchy clothing brand, Givenchy denied him an account to carry its brand at his high end store Creme. Like Pusha T, I see some of our people acting like unofficial brand ambassadors promoting sport teams, clothing brands and other products and services on and offline everyday. More times than not, these same corporate entities are doing little to nothing to support the people, families and communities who are enriching them. To boot, many of these corporate entities are Fortune 500 cultural appropriation companies. In other words, some of these companies glean ideas or outright steal the intellectual property from people, create a product and/or service based upon those ideas and then sell it back to the same people they gleaned/stole it from -who are oftentimes running around promoting it like unofficial brand ambassadors. It's the epitome of a vicious cycle and shows how one's identity is intrinsically linked to economics. This is important to understand because those who have benefited the most from Cultural Capital will inform you that these non-financial social assets are for the purpose of promoting social mobility; code for "culturally assimilating and seeking social status in their society that makes itself rich from your labor while ignoring/marginalizing your minority interests." I'm talking about Cultural Capital as a means of self determination.  

Here in America with the inauguration of President Donald Trump, we are about to witness some national policy changes that will severely effect regional and local economies, including our access to public goods. With his motley crew of unqualified appointments to various positions in his Administration, we can expect to see how Cultural Capital functions much clearer, under the guise of Nationalism. White Nationalism to be more precise. The most appropriate response to this oligarchy is not assimilation, it's supporting each other. In order to do this our highest value must lie in our relationships; the basis of any economic system. Relationships are the only vehicle that enables us to build the trust and confidence necessary to support each other. This also requires us to be trustworthy; demonstrating the kind of ethics, integrity, consistency and moral code people can put confidence in. If there is no trust, dependability or confidence in one another, we will not support each other, our products and services, or be willing to cooperate. Without cooperation cooperative economics or collective work and responsibility won't exist. It brings to mind a recent University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth multicultural economy report that projected black buying power to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020. Leveraging this black buying power to control our economic narrative hinges upon how we choose to reciprocally relate to one another, culturally. 

Throughout our chronology, from hundreds of thousands of years ago as Hunter Gatherers to this Millennial Information Age, our ability to survive and thrive depended and still depends upon our willingness and ability to work together. The 'common' 'unity' that forged our communities was and is culture. Moving forward socioeconomically it is imperative that we seek common ground throughout our people activities. Our lives, and livelihood, literally depends upon each other.


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