Despite a rich history of “new” economic ideas and practice in communities of color, why is there still such racial divide in today’s “New Economy” movement?
In Boston, black and Latino workers came together recently to launch CERO — Cooperative Energy, Recycling, and Organics. These workers, who were already involved in informal scrap metal collection and a vegetable oil processing microenterprise, were brought together by two community groups — Boston Workers Alliance and Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health. After completing a co-op academy, the workers developed their own plan for a recycling services company serving the businesses in their own neighborhoods. They are currently raising start-up funds and exploring strategies for developing an eco-energy park in Boston based on processing organic waste into energy and fertilizer.
So, as we struggle to build a New Economy, let us remember history and its lessons:
- Any progressive movement must build multi-racial and multi-class alliances in order to achieve its goals.
- Racial justice must be core to the analysis of the “old” economy and strategies for economic transformation. The Right to the City Alliance is just one of the formations rooted in communities of color that is beginning to articulate such an analysis.
- We need to support and ally with the leadership and initiatives for economic transformation already underway in communities of color. They may not explicitly embrace the New Economy label, and they may not take on some of the more conventional forms. But they are there, and they need to be acknowledged and supported.
- Movement leadership needs to actively diversify their institutions and share power and resources.
If our New Economy is based on solidarity between the discontented and the dispossessed, then it will be multi-hued, and we might just give ourselves the chance to achieve justice, sustainability and democracy.