On the night of May 21, 1921, $26 million was burned to the ground. The infamous Tulsa Race Riot targeted 35 blocks of Black American businesses and residences. Within 16 hours the Ku Klux Klan of Tulsa decimated thriving economic growth that had spurred as a result of large numbers of Black Americans migrating west to escape the socio-economic constraints of the south in the hopes of finding sustaining prosperity. Instead, fortunes were lost.

 The Tulsa Race Riot was one of many examples used during EOS Detroit’s recent talk Rebel Detroit: New Economies, New Futures, New Power to illustrate how blockchain technology could’ve prevented such a large financial loss. Rebel Detroit was the first in a series of monthly conversations with Detroiters about the economy, currency and its relationship to Black Americans. Detroit is 85% Black American. As Chief Community Officer of EOS Detroit, I must consider that demographic as I develop programming to serve a population that is continuously disenfranchised by the current economic system. To get to the heart of this disenfranchisement, I’ve decided to begin the series with conversations around the history of our global economy, capitalism, and the racial wealth gap to further clarify why a new economic system is imperative for the future of Black Americans in the United States and how blockchain technology could potentially resolve these challenges.

Although I’m ultimately charged with ensuring widespread adoption of EOS in Detroit, I know this is a co-visioning and co-creating mission that involves many community partners. For Rebel Detroit, I gathered a panel of community leaders who we hope to work in the future.

The Rebel Detroit panelists included Halima Cassell, B. Anthony Holley, Bryce Detroit, and Kinnard Hockenhull. I chose them all because they have created alternate economies or in the process of doing so. The conversation was dynamic, placing a refreshing perspective on the possibilities of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.

Halima Cassell is an artist and mother who has developed ways to care for her family and community without the use of money. Through her initiatives such as the Free Market of Detroit, she creates spaces for swapping time, skills, and possessions to fulfill the needs and desires of her communities.

left to right: Bryce Detroit, Halima Cassell and Kinnard Hockenhull 

“Moving past the paradigm of sacrifice to achieve wealth and abundance.” That was the founder of BitBox, Kinnard Hockenhull speaking about how for so long people would have to sacrifice health and values to participate in the current global economic system. Keeping people on the fringes of the economy always in survival mode is an effective tool for the continuance of oppression. Kinnard is currently creating the Detroit Blockchain House, a residency for the blockchain and crypto community and a place to experiment with blockchain tech within the house. He will be instituting an innovative model for residents where renters accrue equity of the house over time.

Towards the end of the talk, an audience member asked a very pointed question, “Where do health and healing fit in the development of the new economy?” B. Anthony responded in agreement that healing is necessary since for centuries “capital was weaponized against Black Americans” causing a type of PTSD. As founder of the Conscious Community Cooperative ThinkTank - C3, B. Anthony discussed the need for education about the history of economics and the global economy in order to produce the solidarity economy which he deems as an intentional approach to shifting the relationship Black Americans have with money and wealth. Both B. Anthony and Bryce Detroit spoke about the importance of cooperative economics as an effective method for democratically distributing wealth and strengthening communities. They both are part of the Detroit Coalition for Economic Democracy as well as the Detroit Community Wealth Fund.

Music producer, activist, and pioneer of entertainment justice Bryce Detroit grows intersectional self-determined communities as culture director of Center for Community Based Enterprises (C2BE). He highlighted the need to shift consumer culture in order for alternative economies to be successful and that blockchain technology could be a catalyst for achieving economic justice.  What is the process for shifting consumer culture to achieve economic justice? I will be blogging about this process of attaining widespread adoption of cryptocurrency while healing centuries-old wounds.

Do you have any suggestions? Let’s have a conversation about best practices for sharing with communities of color about the possibilities of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.

Resources

Book

Collective Courage: History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice by Jessica Gordon Nembhard

Articles

The Average Black Family Would Need 228 Years to Build the Wealth of a White Family Today

https://www.thenation.com/article/the-average-black-family-would-need-228-years-to-build-the-wealth-of-a-white-family-today/

 The Ever-Growing Gap: Without Change, African American and Latino Families Won’t Match White Wealth for Centuries

https://ips-dc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/The-Ever-Growing-Gap-CFED_IPS-Final-2.pdf

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