Invest In Black Communities Or Die! (Abridged)

by Benjamin Harrison

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JULY 1, 2020

Invest In Black Communities or Die!

How Inequality Causes Climate Change

Poor folks don't drive electric cars. They don't eat organic food or use renewable energy, and all the while, the clock ticks away at what little time we have left to take meaningful action on climate change.

Photo by Redrecords ©️ from Pexels

The assumption that what currently exists must necessarily exist is the acid that corrodes all visionary thinking. —Murray Bookchin

One of the beautiful things about capitalism is its technology of abundance. An abundance that is now so unavoidable that companies destroy their products en masse just to maintain an illusion of scarcity and exclusivity.

Food is no exception. In the United States, where food insecurity runs rampant—including 11 million children—40 percent of food ends up in landfills each year.

Companies operating in poor communities, whether they’re fast food chains or factories, rely on cheap, unhealthy, and environmentally-unfriendly products or practices.



You can’t have climate change without sacrifice zones, and you can’t have sacrifice zones without disposable people, and you can't have disposable people without racism.

- Hop Hopkins, Sierra Club

It's important to point out that, while just 12 percent of the overall population, half of African Americans reside in these low-income, dangerously underserved, and over-policed communities.

Poisoning the air in poor communities is an acceptable business practice. And so is selling poisoned food. In fact, capitalism depends on it.

Diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer, and obesity bombard communities of color in a deadly intergenerational cycle, but they also pay dividends.

Topsoil erosion, air and water pollution, the extinction of over 25,000 species, and 18.7 million acres of deforestation every year go hand-in-hand with these illnesses.

Communities of color suffer the effects of climate change more than anyone else, including viral outbreaks like COVID-19.

As a rule of thumb, health foods stores and farmers' markets don’t set up shop in poor neighborhoods. And it’s the same case with nutrition education.

Meanwhile, corporations are permitted to confiscate entire low-income neighborhoods, privatize public utilities, evade taxes, and cheat their workers.

 

Are all cops bastards?

If poor people governed themselves, there would be no billionaires, and these companies would likely go bankrupt. That’s where law enforcement comes into play.

Police departments came about for a few reasons: to suppress striking workers, control slave populations, and to defend against attacks from Native Americans.

Their primary purpose is to protect the interests of the ruling class. It’s an old story. White colonists in early America “cleared the old-growth forests and plowed the prairies … part of a larger ethnic-cleansing agenda.”

Unfortunately, that story is ongoing through the militarization of the police.

From 1998 to 2014, military equipment purchases by police departments in the United States rose from $9.4 million to $796.8 million.

Today, it's more than likely that any given police officer is either a thief, a white supremacist, a murderer, an accessory to murder, a domestic abuser, or all of the above.

American police kill citizens at a rate 40x higher than any other industrialized western nation. But here’s the kicker: while police invested in military-grade equipment, the ruling class invested in elections.

Capitalism has to go.

In the 1990s, the wealthiest Americans collected 45 percent of all new income, a number that rose to 65 percent during the second Bush administration.

Today, as calls to defund police departments are met with riot gear, teargas, rubber bullets, and other forms of violence, a handful of billionaires receive a whopping 93 percent of all new income.

As the struggle in the streets plays out, weather patterns across the globe grow increasingly erratic, leading to mass migrations and an alarming recent rise of new authoritarian regimes throughout the world.

Inequality is literally madness, and cooperation is our only alternative.

It's not enough to shop at black-owned businesses. We have to create a multitude of new Black entrepreneurs and community-controlled businesses.

Regular citizens have to accept their power and organize to exercise it. Electing a few people to make decisions for us is no longer viable.

We have just nine years before the world moves past the point of no return. Lost hope for our lineage and climate change will then be our permanent reality.

The creation of grassroots institutions that foster communal power is the most important task of our time. Businesses need to enter into a new social contract with their communities.

Companies that do this are less likely to pollute, export jobs, abuse their workers, use unsustainable practices, or extract community wealth.


That’s why I started FareMarket. It’s my mission to help create new food businesses that work with their communities and not just in them.

And FareMarket is more than willing to be one of the first to bow to community jurisdiction. That’s why we have memberships.

When we reach one thousand members, paying $14.99 a month, we’ll be able to invest $169 thousand a year into new community-controlled enterprises.

That’s the only reason we offer membership. It’s not revenue; it’s the future.

If you feel unheard, please work toward establishing grassroots organizational structures and bylaws for managing these funds and for electing non-mandatory recallable leadership.

We can grow communal power, protect our communities from the police, and build an economy that works with nature and not against it.

This is how we save the planet and build wealth for everyone, not just a handful of billionaires. And we can do it quickly so long as communities work together.

It’s our duty to find a peaceful solution to inequality and, by association, climate change.

Through cooperation, we have the power to make the ending of the era of capitalism a happy one.

 

 

This is an abridged version of this article. If you would like to read the entire article, click here.

Written by Benjamin Harrison
Edited by Kendalyn Mckisick

Benjamin is an entrepreneur, urban farmer, data analyst, professional writer, food justice advocate, and the founder of FareMarket. He maintains our blog as Cyborg Farmer, keeping you informed on the company's purpose, vision, and impact.


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