Nearly seventy years ago, the Supreme Court decided that aggrieved persons could boycott or picket a store or business that was denying, to them, equal opportunities. During the height of the Korean Boycott, the Dinkins Administration sought to undo gains Blacks won under the Norris-La Guardia Labor Act in 1937. Blacks in Harlem boycotted white businesses for a lack of employment opportunities after the Supreme Court decision.
Sofi Hamid, if he could resurrect himself and return to Harlem, would find business ownership on 125th Street in Harlem virtually as white as it was in the 1930’s when Blacks were seeking jobs from white businesses. Attorney Belford Lawson was the architect of Harlem’s boycott campaign in the 1930’s.
An interesting question was raised on Like It Is. From river to river on 125th Street, how many businesses are Black-owned? Without identifying the business, Gil Noble noted that he only knew of one Black business on 125th Street. Under my definition of a Black business, I also know of only one Black business; that is, the Cotton Club owned by John Beatty.
Our historical struggle of begging for jobs rather than owning the businesses in Harlem has given rise to gentrification. While Black leaders have been chasing cameras to produce headlines, white businesses, and now Korean businesses, have been stuffing their pockets and urging a change of the ethnic character of the community. They are vying for white pocketbooks. All dollars are not equal.
The historic Cotton Club is a beautiful dining facility with great entertainment and sumptuous food. Yet, many Black churches prefer to attend gospel brunches elsewhere and nearly all Black-elected officials hold their affairs in foreign venues. More than ninety-five cents out of every dollar leaves the Black community without touching Black hands. Where will Blacks hold their Christmas parties and Kwanzaa celebrations?
Beatty put up his club, in 1989, to keep Rev. Al Sharpton out of jail while he awaited trial on a 70-count indictment. When Rev. Sharpton reached the top rungs of the social ladder, he started holding his affairs anywhere but at the Cotton Club. When Blacks achieve artificially elevated social stature, they seek to become honorary whites. This is a form of passing and emulates “Imitation of Life.”
A Korean woman has established at least two restaurants on or near 125th Street. Blacks are throwing money at her. At all times, it is infested with Blacks. The profits go into Korean pockets and banks. This allows for further investments in New York. Would she put up her restaurants for an indicted Black person?
This landscape is like Harlem seventy years ago. Frank’s Steakhouse was owned by a Greek. He only hired other Greeks in the 1930’s. Jewish merchants, like Blumstein’s, hired Jews. This practice also expanded their professional ranks of lawyers, accountants, advertising agencies, etc. Only Blacks advocate integration and urge diversity.
In recent years, Blacks have enjoyed neo-colonialism. Now, Blacks are getting the boot out of both Harlem and Brooklyn. Look out Queens and The Bronx. Black politics, without Black economics, must accommodate the economics of the business community even if it is to the detriment of the Black politician.
“He who pays the piper calls the tune.” Landlords and merchants draft a community’s political and economic agenda. This explains the absence of a Black agenda. Politics follows economics. Any people that lack economic institutions have no business in politics. This is the sine qua non of plantation politics.
Blacks practice xenophilia. All other groups practice xenophobia. We are always encouraging coalitions, especially with Latinos. Last Thursday, Latino groups arranged a “public hearing/town hall meeting” on media diversity at Hunter College. Commissioners from the FCC were present.
Even though Latinos already have achieved greater access to the public airwaves than Blacks, Latinos sought to arrange a public hearing on diversity without Black participation. Latinos have several national coalitions to serve as media watchdogs. They recognize the harm from media bias and receive support from Latino members of Congress. Blacks must get serious.
It nearly succeeded. Ollie McClean received notice of the hearing in the eleventh hour and was able to present testimony highlighting the media conspiracy which is about to undermine her independent bid for Congress in the Eleventh Congressional District. Blacks and whites, in the media, are the co-conspirators.
Rev. Herbert Oliver also gave testimony coupled with testimony from the “Friends of Like It Is.” Gil Noble’s Like It Is is hanging on by its fingernails at WABC-TV. A petition still needs to be filed with the FCC concerning the lack of Black programming in violation of the public interest in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Where is our tristate coalition?