Income is partially based on how many people are served by what you do. If you work say in an office and your work serves ten people above and around you, your salary is proportional to that multiple. If however you're say George Clooney and you're in a movie, you're paid by how many people that product serves---several million people watching the movie. Or say you're an inventor or a writer, you get paid multiples every time someone uses or purchases your created product. Unfortunately Westernized school systems don't teach this initially that it's not totally what you do, it's how many people partake of your work/service as a product (something you get a cut of) that determines financial outcome.
If you run a Chinese restaurant for 20 years, Ivy League educate your children in finance and then are able to fund them in an internet start up---you've jumped the entire family to wealth in two generations while everyone is still alive to enjoy it. This pattern is being replicated by other ethnicities and cultures such as Pakistanis, other Asians, Eastern Indians, etc. What they're doing is considering business from a different model set.
One, they're not looking at having a stable job but instead a stable business. That means you have to master a system regardless of whether or not it likes or accepts you. In the early 1900s Asians petitioned the government to be seen as "White" in racial classification, since physically following the letter of the law with racism, they were. Instead they were sub-categorized into another group and denied the right to have as many women enter America as men and the men were subjected to the Jim Crow/miscegenation laws against procreation. (The 1875 Page Act that was made a law by Congress.) The men could come here to work but they were detracted from settling or propagating into families. The workaround they were able to establish was that Asians were able to do the businesses that Whites didn't want to do---such as laundromats, cooking service businesses, domestics. It became a cultural ideology to focus on the business for profit, not for identity. That the outcome, the profit, was more important than the joy or thrill of individual satisfaction.
Contradictorily, Blacks and Latinos born here in America have assimilated to the projection of White people. Essentially we who are not like them, try very hard to think like them, without ever looking closely at what works and what doesn't work. The concept of yes, banks and money institutions not giving loans to minorities isn't held and looked squarely at and then the workaround of how other ethnicities overcome this. We tend to see the entirety of the world's experiences through racism, good or bad but never pursue the five other reasons that might exist (like a jacked up or lack of a business plan) or alternative ways communities can amass money on limited budgets.
The concept of say a sous sous (which was so widely done in Caribbean, Asian, Indian, etc cultures that the IRS has to recognize it as income) which is essentially say 52 people put in $100 a week for 52 weeks. Each week, one person randomly is picked to receive the $5200, guaranteeing everyone a payday of $5200 a year. It becomes guaranteed savings. However assimilation into a White dominated culture has also come with ingrained feelings of suspicion and an inability to trust financially educated people of one's own race. We've adopted racism against people who look like us, that other cultures don't automatically have. The above concept struck some of you readers as impossible to do with Black or Latino people and that thought train is ingrained racism. When you judge people, based on race, as inferior to being able to do something is racism. How often do you project racism onto other people of color following that definition?
What we're really seeing are minorities operating outside of or around racism within a structure that has racialized psychology. I can prove it! Imagine a Black family starting a pizza parlor, would the pizza be good? Would you go to an Italian restaurant owned by a Black family with entirely Black staff? How about a soul food or Jewish restaurant owned by Latinos? The contradictions that you felt and maybe had to overcome to explore---if the food was good---the if is racism. We never ask the race/ethnicity of the owners of Chinese restaurants because we exclude them outside of our racialized thinking. (Have you considered that it states it's Chinese food but it's not Chinese food? No, but racism in America, used to their advantage, allows Asian people to stand there and serve food, called Chinese food. They racially look Chinese enough to us so we accept that they must be Chinese and skilled at making this food. They're not even Chinese and they're watching us make a racialized gaffe to their profit! Now can you see how they might see you in your neighborhood as less educated as well as foolish?)
How do we change this? How do we think differently than we've learned how to over centuries, over multiple generations? We have to start not simply looking for jobs that guarantee declining pay. Job security no longer exists, perhaps it never truly has for people of color but when we explore entrepreneurship we have to consider mass appeal. We have to look at businesses not simply from our own community needs but other communities, the worlds' needs. As I even design this blog, the television show, podcasts, I get emails and suggestions from around the world. What started out several years ago as a local design of information for men of color has expanded to men of color around the world. I'm constantly looking at how to universalize my work, how to create multiple access points for other cultures and then consider how to re-funnel the profits back into communities that need it or my own social circle.
I learned from the best, the Chinese restaurants, the hundreds of them in Harlem, Washington Heights, the Upper West Side, Inwood, open from 11am to 12 midnight frying chicken and french fries and cooking combinations of food that isn't even Chinese in origin, (it's Americanized food that was created in the 1950s.) Next time you're in a Chinese food restaurant look at and maybe even calculate their business model---how much does a handful of rice cost, a few ounces of chicken, the Styrofoam container, the menus, the mark-up? Ask them some questions. If we understood this natural business franchise that is declaring millions, but ultimately manifesting billions in profit, direct and indirectly over generations, we could solve a lot of the problems the Black and Latino community have found to be intractable. This might even hold the answer to why Black and Latino non-profits are not sustainable.
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