It seems that back in the day, our grandparents had a better and more sensible approach to managing their money and resources. They did things like save plastic bags, cooking oil and aluminum foil, and mend torn or worn clothing instead of just tossing it. My recently deceased great-grandmother, whose 98 years on earth has seen her through some tough economic times, used to be very fond of her women’s auxiliary club, which would meet on a weekly basis, rotating house to house, to knit and sew clothing that they would either wear themselves, sell or give away to the poor at the church. She once told me that the group not only provided her a way to make some extra money but also gave her the opportunity to work beside some of her dearest friends.
What I learn from watching my grand parents generation is that when times are tough the best thing we can do is pull our resources together. And with black unemployment at record levels not seen in 27 years, it certainly seems like the time is now for us as a community to begin pulling from those conventional wisdoms of the past in order to help folks get by – but not just get by, but become more self-reliant and gain control over their economic lives. In the spirit of W.E.B Dubois, the use of economic cooperation might be the best strategy for African Americans to become the masters of our own economic destinies.