During the years between 1900 to 1930, we entered what historian Juliette Walker called the “Golden age of Black business” — the number of Black-owned businesses doubled from 20,000 in 1900 and 40,000 in 1914. Segregation forced Black customers to spend their money at Black-owned stores. The combination of racism from banks, white business owners and police forced us to circulate the Black dollar among ourselves. The Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, otherwise known as “Black Wall Street,” is a shining example of Black success and the subsequent demolition caused by racism.
Black Wall Street was a thriving economy where Blacks created their businesses and services, including several grocery stores, two newspapers, two movie theaters, nightclubs, and numerous churches. The residents selected their leaders and raised capital there to support economic growth.
On May 31 and June 1, 1921, mobs of white residents attacked Black residents and businesses of Black Wall Street. As Scott Pelley reported on a recent 60 Minutes episode, “Oil made Greenwood rich, but jealousy made it suffer. In 1921, a white mob, with incendiary rage, burned Greenwood to ash. Even memories were murdered when the dead were dropped into unmarked graves.” The mob, accompanied by the police, stirred up chaos on the ground and even dropped bombs from aircraft over the city. Between 150–300 people were murdered, including women and children. Ten thousand were now homeless, and 6,000 of them were herded into internment camps only to be released weeks later. The Black Wall Street Massacre has been called “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history.”
Ninety-nine years later, amid the murders of unarmed Black men and structural inequality, Black businesses receive lower loan amounts and are forced to leverage our cash. One way to separate ourselves from untrustworthy institutions is to circulate permission less sovereign money in our community. Isaiah Jackson stated:
“We have started a new golden era of Black business with over 400 percent growth in Black businesses in 2018. Our ancestors had no way to predict that one day we could have sovereign money that doesn’t require permission. I can almost guarantee they would use bitcoin if given the chance to [do so] 80 years ago. The circulation of the Black dollar is almost non-existent compared to other communities. The Asian dollar is estimated to circulate 120 times more than the Black dollar, which stays in our community an average of six hours.
If we shifted our entrepreneurial mindset to accepting bitcoin, we would essentially make outside communities adjust to our preferred payment method. We should let bitcoin and cryptocurrency be our economic language and force other businesses to get down or lay down.”
If we choose to participate, the freedom of bitcoin can create a perfect storm of innovation for the Black community.
The next wave of innovation will be driven mainly by the activity of Black entrepreneurs and consumers online. Diverse entrepreneurs and those creating solutions for different audiences are solving problems for the fastest growing demographic segments in the U.S., provide opportunities for disproportionate returns and represent the markets of the future:
- Black women are the fastest-growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the U.S.
- HBCUs produce 27 percent of Black students with bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields.
- 50 percent of the Black population is millennial or younger.
- Black buying power is $1.2 trillion annually.
- By the year 2044, people of color will become the majority in the U.S., making up over half of the U.S. population.
Black purchasing power and representation in the labor market will continue to rise yet is still technologically and financially underserved. Only 1 percent of venture capital funding goes into Black-led startups. As the economy begins to change and implement cryptocurrency, there will be more opportunities to build wealth for future generations. Below are three ways that members of our community can take our power back:
People can own bitcoin by buying it with fiat currency, trading it on an exchange, earning it by creating content, or shopping. Bitcoin is scarce, like silver or gold. The supply is capped at 21 million. It’s not centralized and can’t be printed out of thin air like fiat, which makes it a deflationary asset, as opposed to an inflationary one. As of writing this post, one bitcoin is worth $9,202.14, and the value is projected to rise as demand grows.
Bitcoin mining innately incentivizes stakeholders to solve proof-of-work consensus algorithms or mathematical equations that secure the network in exchange for new bitcoin. Solving these complex puzzles requires a GPU (graphics processing unit) miner or an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miner. Every 10 minutes, a block of bitcoin transactions is solved by miners and added to the blockchain. There are more than 55,000 nodes, basically computers, running the software to record and validate transactions. This level of decentralization adds to the network’s security and strength. Often, miners group together into “mining pools” to share block rewards.