Let’s celebrate Black entrepreneurs in Black History Month. They are the real race revolutionaries
As seemingly every mainstream media outlet and political blog reminds us, this week marks the beginning of Black History Month. Democrats and left-wing elites are marking the occasion as a media hook to push progressive policies such as race reparations that they claim will help overcome racial and economic divides.
Hulu is out with a new screen adaptation of the New York Times’ debunked “1619 Project.”This propaganda is critical race theory 101, claiming slavery’s legacy still determines modern American institutions like the economy.
Black History Month is a paean to Black activism as a means of improving Black Americans’ well-being. While activism certainly had its place to overcome the real structural racism of the past, the better way for Black Americans to get ahead today is through entrepreneurship.
As I argue in my new book, “The Real Race Revolutionaries: How Minority Entrepreneurship Can Overcome America’s Racial and Economic Divides,” entrepreneurship is the real revolutionary act that Black Americans can take to empower themselves and their communities.
In fact, Black entrepreneurs are already overcoming racial and economic divides. A Congressional Black Caucus Foundation study finds that the median net worth for Black business owners is 12 times higher than for Black non-business owners. University of Washington economist William Bradford draws on such data to argue that “increasing the rate of black entrepreneurship will reduce the wealth disparity between black and white families.”
Political activism, by contrast, is motion without movement. To the extent it succeeds, it threatens to calcify racial income and wealth divides by disrupting the greatest “anti-racist” advancement force: capitalism.
The debate over the better way to achieve racial economic equality – via activism or entrepreneurship – isn’t new. The Black intellectuals W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington clashed over this question while advocating for racial equality at the turn of the 20th century.
Du Bois argued that activism and political power were the best way for Black Americans to attain racial equality, while Washington contended that entrepreneurship was the better approach.
Du Bois believed capitalism to be inherently racist and became a member of the Socialist Party of the United States. He argued that Black schools should teach the liberal arts to develop an elite Black leadership class. He also called on Black Americans to increase their protests and political influence.
Washington, by contrast, believed Black Americans should harness the power of capitalism to become economically independent. He called on them to pursue “industry, thrift, intelligence, and property” to attain financial security that would usher in social equality.
Of Washington, the historian C. Vann Woodward wrote, “The businessman’s gospel of free enterprise, competition, and laissez-faire never had a more loyal exponent.” Washington pushed for Black schools to focus on trades and entrepreneurship to teach students the skills they needed to earn a living.
Intellectuals and the media have celebrated Du Bois’s political approach while Washington has been accused of selling out Black interests.
Today, Du Bois’s spiritual descendants, including Black authors and intellectuals Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ibram X. Kendi, are similarly feted for their political activism.
Yet with time, Washington’s entrepreneurial approach has proven the better way to overcome racial and economic divides.
Black political dominance in major American cities in recent generations has not translated to racial economic equality. In fact, Black residents in such areas as Chicago often face high crime and a dearth of economic opportunity.
By a variety of economic measures, Barack Obama’s presidency was detrimental to many Black Americans, as his anti-capitalist policies reduced entrepreneurship avenues.
Though you won’t hear about it during Black History Month, Black Americans are quietly overcoming racial economic disparities by heeding Washington’s call to entrepreneurship.
They are the forgotten minorities of America’s racial story. These real race revolutionaries eschew media glory for actual racial progress.
They are the success stories that we should actually feature this month.
Alfredo Ortiz is president and CEO of Job Creators Network. This column is adapted from his new book, “The Real Race Revolutionaries: How Minority Entrepreneurship Can Overcome America’s Racial and Economic Divides.”