by The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey
Creating a healthy economy in the Black community that serves the masses is one of the most under-talked about subjects among our people. We are so used to share-cropping, even in 2014, that we don’t want to discuss topics like entrepreneurship, employment, ownership, resources, goods, services and the like.
In the centennial year of the Universal Negro Improvement Association-African Community League, we should think about making our communities economically self-sufficient, where our Black businesses could afford to hire every Black person in the Black community who wants to work. That will only happen if we spend most if not all of our money on a regular basis in our community with each other, as much as we can.
Remember: It’s last hired, first fired if we depend on others for our sustenance. Rome was not built in a day; neither was Chinatown. It’s time for us to change the paradigm.
We should think about making our communities economically self-sufficient, where our Black businesses could afford to hire every Black person in the Black community who wants to work. That will only happen if we spend most if not all of our money on a regular basis in our community with each other.
Aishah Bashir is a member of a collective that is organizing The African Diaspora Bazaar and Crafts Fair on Nov. 29 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St. in Oakland. She and her comrades are not just talking rhetoric; they are in their second year of creating a forum for Black people to buy goods and services from local Black businesses they may not usually come in contact with.
It’s a beautiful thing that can use your financial support. Check out Aishah Bashir in her own words …
M.O.I. JR: How did you get the idea to organize an African Bazaar?
Aishah Bashir: Conceptualized by Senegalese native and long-time Oakland resident Birame Thiandoum, African Diaspora Unification began a few years ago with a goal of creating conversations and dialogue between Bay Area African and African American communities. Individuals met monthly to discuss such topics and education, travel, identity and stereotypes etc.
M.O.I. JR: Who exactly is featured? And what goes on?
Aishah Bashir: The African Diaspora Bazaar and Crafts Fair, now in its second year and organized by a cadre of 9-10 volunteers, was an offshoot of these monthly discussions and was created as a way to allow members of the African Diaspora to interact and build community around a commonality of trade and arts.
The second African Diaspora Bazaar and Crafts Fair will be held Nov. 29, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Humanist Hall, located at 390 27th St. in Oakland. Entry is free.
M.O.I. JR: What is the purpose of the Black community controlling the economics in the Black community?
Aishah Bashir: Historically, trade has always been a powerful and peaceful vehicle for people to build alliances AND “get to know one another” through the sharing of ideas, resources, spirituality etc. By continuing this idea of “Black” economics, community members are able to feel in control of not only where their dollars are going but also knowing who their dollars support and for what purpose.
There is a huge difference in spending money with someone who you know has produced and/or crafted an item you are wearing vs. buying a piece of clothing that may have contributed to the oppression of another human being via outsourcing, slave labor etc.
M.O.I. JR: How have we been doing thus far in community economics in your opinion?
Aishah Bashir: I think statistics will show that on a large scale, Black economics is lacking, but it is our hope that events such as the African Diaspora Bazaar and Crafts Fair will further the nationwide push towards supporting grassroots and local business.
One sponsor is the Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union which, at its inception, has always been an institution that has supported local and Black and Brown business and faith-based institutions.
M.O.I. JR: When and where is the African Bazaar?
Aishah Bashir: The second African Diaspora Bazaar and Crafts Fair will be held Nov. 29, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Humanist Hall, located at 390 27th St. in Oakland. Entry is free.
In addition to a wide array of local craftspeople and small businesses representing the gamut of the Diaspora, including Senegal, Ghana, Brazil, Belize, Southern U.S. and Oakland, there will be spoken word performances, dance presentations and day-long discussion tables encouraging conversation around health, financial education, youth and community building.
M.O.I. JR: How do people keep in touch with you?
Aishah Bashir: Artisans, craftspeople, healers, educators and more are encouraged to join us as vendors. Vending space is still available. For more information, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 239-3819.
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.