Harriet Tubman did it in her time, now it is our turn to unite and do the same to circumvent the obstacles that society continues to put in our way to maintain the status quo, and prevent us from prospering economically.

If anything, the episodes of Kyrie and Ye in 2022 taught us that we, Black people, in the third decade of 21st century, are still not totally free, in spite of what they want us to think. If the Powers that Be can dispossess us as swiftly as that from all of our acquisitions -rightfully built along a lifetime- that means it was never ours in the first place.

And this is not new. The pillage, disruption, discrimination, violence and exhaustive control of our activities reached such an extent that Black communities were forced to create enclaves in the past for securing their assets and pursuing a certain type of freedom. These enclaves provided Black Americans with some of what white America had been denying them for centuries. The main example that we can give is the Underground Railroad. This secret network provided routes and safe houses for enslaved African Americans to escape into free states and other countries. This underground network was so called because “they who took passage on it disappeared from public view as really as if they had gone into the ground,” according to John Rankin.

Analyzing the difficulties they had to overcome, they do not differ that much from what we experience today:

  1. Pursuit by slave catchers: Escaped slaves were often pursued by slave catchers, who were hired to capture and return them to their owners. Similarly, today the companies and corporations act like ancient plantation owners as “talent hunters” searching for naïve but extraordinary individuals subject to be entrapped into abusive contracts.
  2. Lack of resources: Many Underground Railroad participants were poor and had limited resources, making it difficult to support those who were trying to escape. This is the “same old, same old” of our community. Nothing has changed so far… As the Black Media reiterates many times: “they hate you because you are Black, but they can oppress you because you are poor” [TBA].
  3. Hostile territory: Many of the states along the Underground Railroad were hostile to escaped slaves and made it difficult for them to find refuge. Today Corporate America has become a crocodile swamp, and the meltdown episode is a commonly shared experience of every Black professional after tons of micro [and macro] aggressions at the work place.
  4. Betrayal: Some participants in the Underground Railroad were not committed to the cause and would betray escaped slaves for personal gain. You know the saying: “all skinfold ain´t kinfolk.” Not everyone has been on code for the benefit of the community. Many agents have been used to get information from the inside for the external forces, being able to dismantle the whole thing. This betrayal difficulty is very well linked to lack of resources. Sadly, there have always been individuals prone to bribes and/or threats made by the Powers that Be for them to prioritize their advancement to the detriment of the entire group.
  5. Legal penalties: Laws that punished those who aided escaped slaves were often severe, making it dangerous for people to get involved in the Underground Railroad. Despite these challenges, the Underground Railroad was a crucial part of the journey to freedom for many African American slaves. As the “The 1619 project” pointed out, all the laws in North America were designed specifically to hamper the Black community to thrive and to restrain their growth on every level. Still today we see how the law applies differently depending on your skin color.
For all these reasons, the Underground Railroad network had to adapt to these difficulties in order to achieve its objectives. The Underground Railroad did not have a headquarters or governing body, nor were there published guides, maps, pamphlets, or even newspaper articles. The Underground Railroad consisted of meeting points, secret routes, transportation, and safe houses, all of them maintained by abolitionist sympathizers and communicated by word of mouth, although there is also a report of a numeric code used to encrypt messages… Decentralization, peer-to-peer services and messaging, gated meeting points… many similarities to what Web3 offers. Isn’t it awesome?

In the 21st century, DAOs and Web3 technology have allowed us to create those enclaves our ancestors really struggled to build in a very methodological manner while risking their lives to free or provide a secured passage to a “better life”. Trustless, anonymous, immutable and democratic technology can facilitate a (re)union, that for centuries we have been trying to rematerialize. A well-thought and designed token can allow a virtual community to take control of their own decision-making and financial resources.

The Web3 and DAOs provide new opportunities for Black communities to overcome these same difficulties we are still facing today. Here are a few ways in which they could help:

  1. Ownership and Control: In a DAO, ownership and control is distributed among the members of the community, making it harder for outside forces to interfere. This allows Black communities to have more control over their projects and resources.
  2. Access to Resources: The decentralized nature of Web3 and of DAOs can help Black communities access resources that were previously out of reach. For example, through crowdfunding, they can raise funds directly from supporters without relying on traditional financial institutions.
  3. Safe Spaces: In the Metaverse, Black communities can create virtual spaces that are safe and secure, where they can gather and work on projects without fear of outside interference.
  4. Trust: The transparency and accountability provided by the Web3 and DAOs can help build trust within Black communities, reducing the likelihood of betrayal from insiders.
  5. Legal Protection: Web3 and DAOs operate on a decentralized network, which can make it harder for governments to penalize Black communities for their projects. Additionally, smart contracts can provide a level of legal protection for members, helping to reduce the risk of legal penalties.

By leveraging the benefits of Web3 and DAOs, Black communities can overcome the difficulties they face and achieve greater success in their projects.

As everything done on the blockchain is immutable, copyrights and royalties are secured, and no intermediary will be able to regulate who succeeds or fails. We used to look for patrons or companies that considered our creations worthy to make them known. Now, we simply have to create or look for a community (local or global) interested in and/or knowledgeable about our genre and style so that they can make their own judgment of good, useful or bad.

As in the past we could still find few enclaves for the Black community in the middle of desolation and lynching in America, now we can build our Web3 enclaves to secure our freedom and legacy for our descendants. The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious. Sadly, many black entrepreneurs are still hesitant to fully embrace the potential of the Metaverse and crypto technologies, often due to a lack of information or past negative experiences with scams. This means that we risk being left behind on this opportunity to shape the future and build wealth for our community.

Do you want to be part of those engineering the changes for the betterment of our community, or would you rather wait until all the speculators finish flooding the virtual spaces and then try to catch the bread crumbs that fall off of the table? Let us write history today so our descendants can remember our courage to change the status quo and dare to face challenges to secure a better future for them.

MARCH, 08 / 2023
Are you a member of a Black community looking to strengthen your social and economic bonds? Do you want to build a thriving business ecosystem that empowers your people and preserves your culture? JJBK Studio can help you achieve these goals and more through the innovative tools and technologies of the Metaverse. Contact us now to learn more and schedule a consultation.
Text author: Jimmy Jean
Photography: Midjourney AI ©JJBK studio 2023

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