HOUSTON — One of the immortals, Lady Billy Holiday sang God bless the child- Mama may have Papa may have but God bless the child that has got his own.
In “Roots,” a free black man called Chicken George, descendant of Kunta Kinte made and kept a promise that he would come back and bring them out of slavery. Chicken George knew that he had to establish a base in order to liberate his family. Chicken George embraced self-determination. Self-determination is the second principle of Kwanza. It means to name, define, speak for ourselves and determine our own destiny as free people.
Harold Cruse in the Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, a Bible for assisting in establishing black identity, purpose and direction, lamented that in a country based on ownership of private property that the privileged classes of black people have not properly sought and advanced ownership of property by the masses of our people.
A Houston developer on You Tube remarked that in Third Ward, rapidly becoming Midtown, that 70% of those living in Third Ward did not own their homes. In historic Fifth Ward, statistics reveal that 85% of those living in Fifth Ward do not own their homes.
Ownership is a basis for personal, family and community power. As the white supremacist senator said in “Roots” following the collapse of slavery, whoever owns the land will rule the people.
In 2020 and beyond, SANKOFA requires that the emphasis must be on ownership. Ownership for families and communities. If you travel down Cullen Boulevard from Griggs Road to Sims Bayou, the chief businesses will be dozens of barber and beauty supply houses that are legitimately owned by outsiders.
Chicken George was the forerunner of Good Times and the quest to get a piece of the pie to ensure black well-being. Ownership 101 says that practical wisdom requires that we move away from renting wheels and furniture. Ownership 101 says that we seek to control the space that we stand on by buying the property and having a deed in our name that is recorded in the county courthouse.
The encroachment and legal seizure of vast swaths of areas where blacks and poor people have historically lived is accelerated by not having ownership. The commercial and residential development around the soccer and baseball stadiums will force black and poor people to leave the neighborhood in the absence of well-paying jobs, affordable housing and great schools.
There were once scores of shot gun houses behind and around Jerusalem Baptist Church at McGowen and US 59. Almost overnight, there are now townhomes that sell for $350K that have replaced the shot gun houses.
President Bill Clinton moved into Harlem 15 years ago and today, Harlem, NY is nothing like the Harlem of the 40’s 50’ and 60’s. There are now boutique coffee shops, delicatessens and nice housing with doormen.
Yes, they are coming for our neighborhoods, but most owners will be in command.
Chicken George was the ancestor of the Alex Haley family. Haley authored the book, “Roots” and helped change history. His wife, Kizzy, said it best after her son asked how did they know Chicken George was coming back, remarking Chicken George was a promise keeper. Simply put, he would return because he said that he would. Chicken George did return and took his family to prosperity and the good life.
Conserve. Don’t let Madison Avenue, or the fancy neighborhoods in your city, seduce and bankrupt you. Own where you stand. Own where you live. Barack and Michelle Obama own where they live and have cleared the path for Sasha and Malia.
Let’s clear the path for our children by owning our homes and businesses and creating generational wealth.