By Pastor Curtis O. Robinson, Sr.
“Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, `What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, `Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”
I am not inherently a racist person. Any prejudices that I have are learned via my experience as an African-American man in this country – whether they were taught to me by my parents, who have always taught me that God creates all people equal, or by the American school system that may have taught me that my capacity as a citizen is diminished because of who I am.
Nonetheless, I am not a racist and have not been brainwashed to believe that just because of the color of my skin that I am better than someone else. There is strong evidence that the opposite exists more than not, and I am not exclusively saying that White America has taught me that I am not enough, because quite frankly, there are enough African-Americans who are more than willing to share that with me also.
So what are we discussing? Are we discussing racism? We are not discussing it as a whole, but in part because the time is now for African-Americans to begin to economically serve themselves.
I was privileged recently to speak with former Richmond City Councilman Jim McMillan. As we shared investment war stories, he spoke very pointedly about his move into the world of business when he opened his first pharmacy in 1952 on the corner of 7th and Willow in Oakland.
He reminded me of all of the African-American entrepreneurs whose businesses lined 7th street in Oakland, from African-American hotel owners, to auto parts owners, grocers, beauty supply stores, restaurants, etc. In essence he described a scene of cultural and economic sustainability, and you could sense the pride within him as he spoke.
For all of you “why can’t we just get along” guys and gals, sure I want to get along also. But in trying to get along, we have lost something along the way. I marvel how in the city of Richmond the Latino community is creating an economic infrastructure that will lead to influence and leverage. When you create jobs within your own community, you create opportunity. You create doors that will open up to wealth and generational prosperity.
Any multi-millionaire will tell you that they made their money incurring risk, and they did not do it working for someone else. Before you go too far in your criticism of this article or this opinion, just because you are doing well does not necessarily mean that your community is doing well. As a matter of fact, I see so many African-Americans trying to assimilate that they are willing to leave their culture at the gate.
Every time we spend our money with someone else and not ourselves, we stringently disengage our economic viability. I don’t see any White Americans picketing Asian grocers or Hispanic grocers with signs that say shopping at these stores is economically bad for America. And if that is the case, when will we stop spending our money trying to engage people who don’t really sustain us. We need to stop, take a look at what is at stake and begin engaging all that is us.
So excuse me White America, don’t take it personally. It’s just business. I want to make sure that my children have a viable future economically.
Pastor Curtis O. Robinson, Sr. is Interim Pastor at the Faith Baptist Church located at 2680-64th Ave. in Oakland. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.