• Street Names And Kin Solidarity.

    It's not everyday that I dig around a website that is largely geared towards celebrating the birth of white English occupation of what would eventually be known as America and the existence of its white American offspring (to the everlasting detriment of native residents). But while working on the last post about Elizabeth Wright, one of the links featured on another blog led me to a story on Johnathan Tilove and Michael Falco's book, "Along Martin Luther King: Travels on Black America's Main Street." The book was intended as a portrait of black American life and culture along streets often renamed after the famous Civil Rights activist. The blog's review sidewinds into a hit piece on a religious figure and a brief musing on how black Americans are being squeezed out by a growing Latino population and gentrification caused by developers in search of young, affluent paying customers. The old chestnut was that only streets in the poor, worse-off neighborhoods were named after MLK, Jr.

    The only aspect of the blog posting that stood out was a brief comment about kin solidarity:

    But the big chains are latecomers to the process of crowding out black shopkeepers. They were pushed aside years ago by immigrants from patriarchal cultures, such as Greece or Korea, where the senior male can compel his entire extended family to toil diligently in the clan's store or restaurant.

    African-Americans, by comparison, tend to lack the kin solidarity needed to prosper in small business. Big corporations with carefully worked out procedures offer ambitious individual blacks a surer road up the ladder.

    It's a "blind squirrel finds acorn" moment.

    Kin solidarity is something that is sorely lacking in the black American community. Other nationalities and ethnic groups seem to have no issue with helping build generational wealth by having the entire extended family cultivate and grow a business. Those who participate often leave with the skills needed to manage their own businesses or, at the very least, have a solid financial backing for other endeavors. It's something I've seen in Carib and African families, but not necessary in our own.

    Instead, most black Americans would rather strike out on their own or rather take their chances climbing the ladder in already established corporate outlets. For the most part, we often stay separate from our extended family unless family reunions, funerals and other such events bring the family back together. It's a very individualistic streak that black Americans have taken to heart, as though that's how things are supposed to be.

    I hate to pin the blame on slavery, but it's where blame is going. The lack of family cohesion thanks to the omnipresent threat of being separated and sold to persons unknown and shipped to parts unknown promoted a subconscious streak of kin independence out of sheer necessity, because you never knew when those family bonds would be severed for good. Other cultures never had to deal with that particular generational trauma, and it's something that has to be slowly but surely deprogrammed from our subconscious being if we want to practice any form of kin solidarity. It's a big step along the road of consolidating our own economic independence from the rest of America.