My thoughts on the “The Myth and Propaganda of Black Buying Power” by Jared Ball

UPDATE: I was able to reach out to the author Dr. Ball and clear up the burning questions I had. I have to check if the labor movement was mentioned in his book but I have a better understanding of what he feels would work. The government has not given Blacks the help they need, so I asked Dr Ball, if all groups within America stopped consuming would that help? He said something like that and suggested that the labor movement history is important. Unions, strikes, etc.

That was all I needed to hear. It was a clue to go on. I’ve heard Boots Riley discuss supporting the labor movement but despite Boots making a whole movie about it, I wasn’t sure about the strategy since Boots calls himself a communist. But with Dr Ball mentioned labor movement. That reminded me of Fred Hampton of the Black Panthers. He had an ability to join with and influence other ethnic groups and was later assassinated for it.. I have to study what Fred was trying to do closer. The blueprint may exist. But I’m grateful Dr Ball took the time discuss his book and clear up my questions. The review below was written before I chatted with him.

I read the The Myth And Propaganda Of Black Buying Power this weekend to compare with a phrase I heard Dr Amos Wilson about “protecting our markets”. While the book is well-researched, I still had reservations about the book. Still the book is worth a read.

I agree with the evidence presented suggesting the way Black buying power has been promoted as pure propaganda. Propaganda that the U.S. Government started and the Black bourgeois continued to promote to gain white Advertising dollars. Not because the buying power actually increased. I also agree with Dr. Ball’s argument that government grants specifically for Blacks has to be the main way our financial situation can improve. I even agree with banking Black being insufficient. There is a lot that I agree with.

However, I didn’t notice mentioned the positive ways our black buying power was used that was not for White advertising or buying White products. I thought the Nation of Islam and the Marcus Garvey movement, were able to successfully using the black buying power to benefit the communities in which it served. Garvey was able to create businesses and NOI was able to create businesses by changing the tastes of black men, so they desired less from outside our community. That model would take work but is still needed today. So what I missed from the book was a good enough argument to not try those things. It didn’t last but we could learn from their mistakes and not throw out the whole initiative. Despite the ADOS movement, the government is trying to avoid any conversation about billion dollar grants to Blacks. Until those grants come why not do what we can in terms of shopping Black and protecting our market.

Dr. Amos N. Wilson is mentioned in the book, at the end of chapter 3. Mr. Ball compliments him while saying he continued the myth as well. This is a great critique and it’s true. But in other audio speeches such as the one below, Dr. Wilson says we have to stop overconsumption which is a similar point Mr. Ball makes:

“If we get off that “consumption means status” we can begin to change this equation. Black people are going to have be trained out of things they were taught to desire. Elijah Muhammad… he cut the appetite for white products off so that the money that was spent buying white owned products was used to build the nation. We must change desires, that is very important…
we don’t need hardly 80 percent of the stuff we think we need”

Dr. Amos Wilson discourages consumption and keeping up with the jones. As for the suggestion of protecting our markets that I mentioned earlier, please check out this video where Dr. Wilson suggests to protect our people from outside businesses so that they won’t make money off our people here. With creativity, coalitions and communication, that solution can still be worked on. And I’m sure Brother Jared probably wouldn’t be against that. Still his book’s focus on the myth and propaganda of black buying power is proven really well. So with that settled, solutions for the issue of building our economic strength would have been cool to read. I think he and Garvey Wilson and others would have agreed a lot more than they disagreed, still I am better for having read his book and recommend it.