JAMES CLINGMAN

(TriceEdneyWire.com)—An excellent example of the impact our history has on the way we are today, especially economically, can be found in an article titled, The Reluctant Entrepreneurs, by Joel Kotkin, author of the book, Tribes.

The feature discusses several reasons for Blacks not going into business and being surpassed in this area by other ethnic groups.  Among other reasons, the history of African Americans was cited.  The article quotes Robert Hill, a Black Historian at the University of California at Los Angeles, who traced the lack of entrepreneurial tradition to African origin and the brutality of the American system of slavery.  “Africa,” Hill explained, “is more a communitarian society, where notions of private property have never been so entrenched as in Europe or North America. The culture of capitalism is just not part of our African heritage.”

The piece goes on to say, “…certainly slavery and its progeny, the sharecropper system, did nothing to foster confidence, independence, or a capitalist inclination among African Americans. Before slavery and after, White landowners believed the proper way to treat the Black was, in the words of one slave owner, ‘to create in him a habit of perfect dependence…’ And it was a system that proved to be enormously successful and enduring.”

The article continued, “we are a race of people who for generations, both before and after Emancipation, were denied freedom of movement, education, and even a rudimentary familiarity with the free market, not to mention credit, legal status, or safety from lynch mobs. That we, as descendants, have not taken naturally to entrepreneurship should hardly come as a big surprise.”

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