“Supremacy is the conditioning of seeing white as your gold standard.” – Carla Napper
Historically, our people have been suppressed by lack of access to both knowledge and capital. As a magazine, we go to great lengths to provide education. As a magazine that focuses on economic activism, it was equally as important to identify and locate individuals and organizations who provide access to capital. This article features an individual who has created a way for our collective to access capital through a community-based fundraising platform called Sow a Seed. It is imperative that we support community fundraising initiatives such as Sow a Seed. We also need to be active participants in other systems that provide us access to capital like ROSCAs (rotating savings and credit associations) and cryptocurrencies. Finally, we also need to participate in systems that use alternative forms of money such as LETS, GETS, Timebanking, Cryptocurrencies, and Commercial Credit Clearing Exchanges, Community Exchanges, and Mutual Credit Systems to give us access to resources. Access to those resources without the use of upfront capital allows us to globally compete and overcome the historical oppression that traditional banking has created for our people.
Takiyah: Carla, tell me a little bit about yourself. Where were you born? What was your childhood like? And please share any details that you feel are relevant to understanding you as the woman you are today.
Carla: I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. I am the youngest of seven siblings (three deceased). My parents were born in the ’30s, the generation who experienced The Great Depression. My father worked in manufacturing at Westinghouse. My mother was in social work. My mother wanted to be a police officer, but they were not hiring Black women in law enforcement at that time. Mom went to college at Ohio State University after having all of her children. She became a social worker. Mom was an advocate for children. She wanted to do her part to ensure children had a safe living environments. After working for a while, Mom became a foster parent. I wasn’t crazy about that. I felt like the foster children were taking my spot! Deep down, I knew my mother was trying to help these children have a chance for a better life. The last set of foster children were three brothers whose other siblings were scattered throughout the foster system. My mom thought it was so important to keep the three boys together that we adopted them. My mother’s career choice made me realize how blessed I was to have both of my parents providing a stable environment for our family. My mother’s career choice made me realize how blessed I was to have both of my parents providing our family with a stable environment for our family.
The area in which I grew up allowed for a rare experience. I was a four-year-old Black child in the mid-sixties going to preschool in the inner city. The next year, I transitioned to a new school where I was the only Black child in my classroom. This occurred from kindergarten until the fourth grade. I was the “ink spot” in the classroom. The rarity was that although I went to a predominantly white school, I attended a Black church in the inner city. Let me tell you, the kids at church used to tease me. They’d giggle and say I talked like a white girl. No doubt my speech was much like the girls at school.
Takiyah: Carla, that’s really interesting. I hear that often. Blacks saying that others talk like a race. How did that make you feel? As a child, how did you cope with the fact that the opportunity your parents afforded you was turned into an attribute that disassociated you from your race?
Actually, it wasn’t that at all! On some weekends I would sleep over at my mother’s friend’s house. She had a daughter my age, my dear friend Yo-Yo. Yo-Yo was cool. She helped me learn the streets, but always kept me out of trouble. And when we’d get tired of one another over the course of an entire weekend, or, I should say, when she got tired of my mouth, we would scrap! Yo-Yo would whoop my ass every time. Not a whipping, I got whooped! (chuckles). She’s probably my absolute best friend.
So you see, I had an identity. What is beautiful about our culture is that we do speak differently. I recognized that early on. In fact, I was fascinated by it, which explains my love for words, especially slang. I had a love for urban slang. I learned the catchphrases: “What’s happening, Sista,” “Give me some skin, Brotha,” “Gimme five on the black hand side,” “I can dig it,” “I’m hip!” or “Catch you on the flip side.” Those were some of the catchphrases of the day and I would use them. I was picking this stuff up from the cats in the street! People found it humorous to hear catchphrases or street slang coming from this somewhat proper speaking child. People thought I was interesting, I guess.
(Laughing) I find that people still do! Expressing myself these various ways really allowed me to be myself. Black children thought I was goofy and white children thought I was cool! They often referred to me as “Cool Carla.” Oddly, that’s balance! I think white folks really think that Black culture is super cool anyway. These catchphrases, along with our style and fashion sense, excites white folks. They feel our energy to this very day. That was my advantage. I used language to balance the two worlds.
Takiyah: As a woman, what did you learn from that experience as a child?
Carla: I realized this dichotomy was a blessing. The blessing of it was that I had great parents who reassured me that it was okay to be able to go between both worlds. My mother simply explained to me that I was adaptive. I adapted to white people and their catchphrases too! I used to say things like “that’s gross” and “groovy” in the inner city, which were viewed as white expressions. As I say, I got teased for it. For me, it wasn’t good or bad, it was just the way it was. When I think about my ability to adapt today, I am grateful because it has rewarded me handsomely. Today, I can be in any situation and express myself in a way that others find relatable no matter who they are. My environment, along with my position in the sibling hierarchy, made me bold. I’m not afraid to express myself.
Takiyah: Carla, earlier, you said that white people think Black culture is super cool. Would you unpack that? Do you think that white people think Black culture is cool because they have a genuine appreciation for it or is it just because it is entertaining and non-threatening?
Carla: Well, we all know that cultural appropriation is real. Cultural appropriation is an issue. The issue is that whites have monetized our culture. Whites have figured out that our culture creates both excitement and curiosity. Those two things packaged together make money. Are we entertaining? Yes! Think about this. How could a group of people who have endured such turmoil and suffering have such powerful spirit, creativity, joy, presence, and swag? How have we not surrendered to this suffering? With all that we have endured, we still create excitement! We’re still the leader of American culture. That includes music, fashion, sports, leadership, ingenuity. Yes! That’s who we are. And I think that’s because we are constantly reinventing ourselves. Reinventing ourselves is therapeutic—a way to manage our psychological condition. And as long as we continue to reinvent ourselves, marketers will find a way to capitalize on it. They realize Black culture sells.
Our ability to reinvent ourselves is a special gift from the Most High God. We are chosen to have certain gifts. The thing about us is that we have been so bamboozled and downtrodden, we don’t know who we are. We lost ourselves, our values. A few bad apples spoil the honor and trust. But there again, we are constantly reinventing ourselves, so our ability to bounce back and be trusting now, it’s on the rise. And that is a blessing to behold.
Planting drugs in our community was a real setback. We must never let that happen again. The drug epidemic really plagued our community. Those rare occasions when we did allow ourselves to trust, many of us got burned. Remember all those Ponzi schemes in the early 2000’s?
So, we carry that disappointment on to the next opportunity. Since we are pure energy, we are naturally attracted to charisma. We’re attracted to the energy of people and that can galvanize us. Who are our energizers? Muhammed Ali, The Jackson Five, MLK, Jesse Jackson, Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman. The list goes on! Sometimes, we don’t understand the power of the energy we exude as individuals and as a group. I don’t even think the individual who rallies others understands his/her energy sometimes and that can cause him/her to misstep. When that happens, we assume he or she is running a scam, when perhaps it’s because he or she is human and just got it wrong or was too proud to ask for help! It is critical that we have hard conversations with each other about what we are doing.
Takiyah: What kind of hard conversations do we need to have and how can we have them respectfully?
Carla: We need to start calling each other on the carpet when making general comments about ourselves that aren’t based in data. It’s important to do that because comments that aren’t supported by logic or data perpetuate a negative stigma within our community. For example, if you were to say, “That’s what’s wrong with us Black people; we don’t read.” Well, aren’t you reading this article? We should ask the person commenting, “Where’s your data?” Now granted, in the past, Black people didn’t read because they were forbidden to do it. Today, we have data to support that a record number of Blacks are pursuing higher education, so, naturally, that means we do read. Where is the data to support reading in general? If you can’t use data to support a derogatory comment about us, then you just talking yang! This perpetuation of negative stereotypes of our people should be challenged. Maybe then it will stop.
Takiyah: Carla, you’re very active in many powerful initiatives in the Koinda community and you often celebrate how passionate we are. Would you not say that passion leads to emotionality? So how do we temper that passion and emotion with data and logic?
Carla: It’s balance. We have to find a way to balance our passion and emotions with data and logic, not replace it. Yes, we’re feelers; we are energy first. In my mind we are the beginning and the end of human existence. The issue is not that we are feelers or passionate or emotional. The issue is that we are energy, but we really don’t understand who we are because we’ve been conditioned to not know ourselves. That’s by design. In this country, unlike many other countries, many of us have lost ourselves. We’ve been treated and conditioned to perpetuate white supremacy. We’ve been conditioned to identify with our white counterparts or to compare ourselves to them. Supremacy is the conditioning of seeing white as your gold standard.
Takiyah: Wow! “Supremacy is the conditioning of seeing white as your gold standard.” That is deep! So how do you reverse the conditioning of seeing white as your personal standard of excellence or “normal”?
Carla: A few things:
1. Learn how to love yourself completely.
2. Don’t expect anyone else to do it until you do.
3. Explore different cultures more.
4. If you can afford it, go somewhere to expose yourself to cultures that are full of people who do not believe that white is their standard.
5. Host an exchange student of color.
6. Find some time to express yourself in front of a mirror, so you recognize yourself.
Trust me, you can get so caught up with others that you no longer recognize yourself. When you look at yourself in the mirror, it keeps you close to yourself.
Takiyah: Carla, I know you have a few important initiatives up your sleeve for the empowerment of the Black community. One of those initiatives is Sow a Seed. What inspired you to spearhead it?
Carla: When I first read Enterprise Magazine’s article about the group formerly known as Wacoinda [Koindanomics], I looked it up. I was fascinated by the group and all they were doing with cryptocurrency. I joined and I saw these opportunities that were available for us to empower each other and support each other. Organizing can be fun! I remember in my twenties I organized a group of six young ladies. We called ourselves Diamonds & Pearls, DP’s for short. We had a few parties. The last one was a flop. The brothers made fun of me about that one and called my group Coals & Stones (laughing). All these years later, it still makes me laugh.
Experiences, trial, and error are good teachers. I know that first-hand. So, I want to lend my wisdom and experience and find ways to support this group. After all these years in the workforce and an array of experiences in business, I have the skills to add value to the group. Listen, I am by no means a guru, but I am tenacious! I can design ways to collect and interpret people’s attitudes toward different ideas and attributes that make up a sample of this group. I think I understand the profile of an active member of Koinda. There are so many superstars in the Koinda community and they haven’t even blossomed yet; that’s what excites me about Koinda!
Takiyah: That’s pretty interesting. So, what is the profile of an active Koinda member?
Carla: The profile of an active member of Koinda is that we are educated and many of us are not living his/her best life; our dreams for ourselves and what we aspire to be. An active member of Koinda is not living his/her best life because he/she isn’t smart. It’s not because the member is not motivated. It’s because their brilliance has been suppressed by the conditioning of white supremacy.
Takiyah: Would you explain that further?
Carla: We have been conditioned to be poor people. We accept things that are not up to our standard. Our minds and desires are suppressed and we’re taught to settle from an early age. We’re taught to settle because our parents have been taught to settle and accept what has been given based on our suppressed economic condition. For example, if your daughter wants to do something, but you can’t afford it, you make her choose an alternative. That’s not to say that the alternative is bad; it’s that her mind initially couldn’t explore what she imagined, so she has been taught to settle. Creating conditions such as these isn’t by accident.
The mind of Jeff Bezos as a child is no different than the minds of many Black children in urban areas. The only difference with Jeff Bezos is that his parents had money. He had the economic freedom to explore whatever his mind set out to experience. His parents could afford to let him explore. He wasn’t tied down to his condition. Fast forward, what that boils down to in practicality is that you’re brilliant, but suppressed because you have been conditioned to temper your desires in an environment of white supremacy. Therefore, many of us are living a suppressed life!
What I learned was that there were a significant number of people in this group who probably feel a sense of abandonment. Despite the challenges inherent in any large group, there are a lot of people who love Koinda. Unfortunately, they don’t have $50’s, $100’s, $500’s to risk in long-term investments. They just don’t have it! For this group of people, building as a collective means that we have to sow, as well as invest.
Takiyah: Why do you distinguish sowing from investing? Is it not the same?
Carla: Let’s be clear: There is absolutely nothing wrong with financial investing. It’s a smart thing to do. We must also be able to sow into our community. We must have a reemergence of sowing into US by US for US. Sowing comes from a place of grace because the Lord has given us grace and sown into us. It doesn’t stop there. I look at the group and I am grateful! Look at how far we’ve come! We must celebrate that with grace and pass it forward to others. Actually, we do this all the time inside the church, but the Sow A Seed initiative is for our communities.
Sowing is different from investing because with investing you have an expectation of a financial return. Investing is like being passive-aggressive. We invest with the expectation of getting more money in return. We internalize it if the investment turns into a loss. We feel let down. Although most won’t admit it, we see a lost investment as a personal failure. Any time we see failure as part of our identity, we let insecurities seep in. Insecurity is not our friend. Insecurity is the secret weapon of supremacy.
Whereas sowing, in my mind, is like salvation. Some folks view salvation as the Lord extending a hand down to us, but salvation is an act of submission by the individual. Instead of the Lord reaching down to help us, we are surrendering to the will of the Lord.
Let me emphasize that this is just my perspective. We all experience our lives as individuals and we all have different views. This is just a frame of reference—my view based on my experiences. When I say, “we,” I really mean “me.” When I say “our,” I really mean “me.” I am simply sharing what I have observed and interpreted throughout my life and as a professional social analyst. That is what market researchers do. We analyze what motivates people to spend their money, what they spend it on, and we use persuasion to get it done. I have been in the business of observing people, their behavior, spending, and attitudes toward brands and/or services for almost two decades.
Takiyah: What is Sow a Seed exactly?
Carla: The Sow a Seed Initiative is an opportunity for members of Koindanomics to showcase the work they are doing in their local communities and raise funds to further their efforts. The mission of Sow a Seed is to capture a small percentage of the $1.2 Trillion purchasing power of the Black community and redirect some of that purchasing power as reinvestment back into our community. With Sow a Seed, everyone matters. Our Initiative makes sure that every donating member has a say-so in where the money goes, thereby giving a voice to them through their financial contribution, which secures them a vote.
By giving every member in our community the opportunity to vote where our collective money is directed, it makes the Sow a Seed Committee transparent and always connected to the needs and desires of the community. Members can take pride in supporting projects that have a positive impact in our community and strengthen our resolve. Collective representation, collective voting, and collective fundraising to support and empower the Black diaspora also reinforces the truth that “we are stronger together than apart.” Through the Sow a Seed voting and funding process, members will actively move the culture forward on a local, national, and international level.
The Sow a Seed Committee will run seasonal campaigns to build the financial reserves of the Sow a Seed Fund. These campaigns include, but are not limited to: hosting auctions, contests, entry-fee-based social events, selling merchandise, community challenges, selling valuable services, products, and courses. The funding will be completely transparent so the community knows the funds are being used to support the work of community initiatives that empower the Black collective. When you see these campaigns happening, use your power on purpose within the community and get involved!
Takiyah: Carla, I personally know how important the Sow a Seed Initiative is because the Sow a Seed Initiative was the second sponsor to make this magazine a reality. Without Sow a Seed, the Koindanomics Magazine would not be here. This magazine is actual proof of how powerful the Sow a Seed Initiative is.
Carla: I humbly accept that acknowledgment. I believe our universal God is actively engaged in this vision and execution of this mission, and I am very excited about what is in store for this group.
Takiyah: If readers would like to go through the Sow a Seed Initiative to support more projects like Koindanomics Magazine that are designed to empower the Black collective, what are the next steps to get involved?
The Sow A Seed initiative is a collective fundraiser. We have an account set up specifically for seeding community-based efforts.
Participants submit their proposal for funding to the Sow A Seed Initiative via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our goal is to have so many donations that we can make an impact on our community and change the narrative that states Black people will have zero wealth in the country by the year 2053. We hope to have reserves that are managed by The Profit Room. The donating community will determine how those reserve funds are distributed or held for future endeavors.