African American Economics, Slavery, Generational Wealth, Generational Sacrifice, KOLUMN Magazine

Increasing Black Wealth Takes Generational Sacrifice — It Always Has

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Increasing Black Wealth Takes Generational Sacrifice — It Always Has

[two_third padding=”0 15px 0 0px”]Increasing Black Wealth Takes Generational Sacrifice — It Always Has

Since slavery, African Americans have made sacrifices so that their children and grandchildren could do better, but we need not lose this way of thinking today.

ANGELA MAE KUPENDA   |   JUNE 2016   |     EBONY  

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“Farming is back-breaking work. The sacrifice was real.”

[/one_third_last][two_third padding=”0 15px 0 0px”][dropcap]Several[/dropcap] months ago I heard a distinguished, older Black man, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Damon J. Keith, speak at an event and he made many profound statements. We were all taking notes, to refer to later for our own encouragement; and, we all rushed to get a copy of his latest book, Crusader for Justice (2014). One statement Judge Keith, himself a former janitor, made was this: “You are walking on floors you did not scrub and you’re going through doors you did not open. What you are doing now is scrubbing some floors and opening some doors for the next generation. We’ve got to leave a legacy.”

His point is well-taken. As Blacks we must embrace the concept of making generational sacrifices in order to leave a lasting legacy and to help build enduring wealth for our future. Our history teaches the lesson. Although the stories of the lives and familial relationships of Black slave and free communities are not as documented as we would like, we do know that many slave parents who managed to be released from slavery did not just go on their way without thought to the younger and future generations. As reported in Larry Koger’s book, Black Slaveowners: Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina, 1790-1860 (1985), if one slave parent was freed, that parent along with the one still enslaved would work tirelessly and try to accumulate resources to “buy” their children and in so doing, give their children freedom.
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Njideka Akunyili Crosby (born 1983) is a Nigerian-born visual artist working in Los Angeles, California. Her works on paper combine collage, drawing, painting, printmaking, and photo transfers. Akunyili Crosby negotiates the cultural terrain between her adopted home in America and her native Nigeria, creating works that expose the challenges of occupying these two worlds. She has created a sophisticated visual language that pays homage to the history of Western painting while also referencing African cultural traditions. Akunyili Crosby depicts deeply personal imagery that transcends the specificity of individual experience and engages in a global dialogue about trenchant social and political issues.

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The accumulation of sufficient money to free the next generation called for many sacrifices for the free parent. Yet the commitment was obvious, as the effort had to be lodged before the freed parent could indeed fully her new status. Koger’s book also gives glimpses of strategies the enslaved used to obtain the freedom of slave women of childbearing age so that their future children would not be born into chains. This economic sacrifice to free the mothers before they gave birth was an investment for the next generation. Such strategies surely apply to us today. Sacrificial investments are needed to “buy” back our children from the grasp of present day forms of enslavement, and to save our children before they grow up and give birth to an enslaved generation.