Our Choice: To Empower


Maggie Anderson

That people like us could dream up something like this is what’s new and inspirational about our movement.  And sadly, this is precisely what bothers so many about it. We aren’t poor and disenfranchised.  We aren’t ex-offenders reformed in prison.  We are not militant radicals.  My Ivy League husband and I earned six-figure salaries working in corporate America.  We went to white universities and studied with and about good white people.

We don’t fit the black activist profile.

How dare I, a manifestation of the great American Dream, the product of many races and nationalities, preach self-help economics for Black people?

How dare John?  John came from a ‘good’ home in a ‘good’ neighborhood.  John’s father paid for his Harvard education. John even has white friends!

So we aren’t supposed to be offended and distressed.  We shouldn’t be starting movements.  They say we should be humble and grateful, doing everything we can to repay our country for the victory of our lives–not trying to improve America so that there can be more families like ours living that American Dream too.

We’re supposed to do what everyone else does.  You know, shop with the big names and designers instead of with our conscience. Drive over and around the struggling black parts of town. Ignore the plight of their people, the rights of their people, the power of their people–all in exchange for the welcome and cozy embrace of American middle-class life.

We are pretty confident that our girls will get good educations, wonderful opportunities, and grow up to be law-abiding, productive members of society.  This is all that should matter to us.

“What else could they want?” They say.  “Why are they trying to change things???!!!!”

Yes, we do have a wonderful life.  But it’s not enough.  And we’ll throw it all away if it means we could not keep fighting for what’s right.

You know what we really want?  We want to live that wonderful life in a society where our beautiful people are not relegated to the bottom anymore.  So we fight for that.  That’s our fight.  That’s our journey.  That’s our movement and it’s just beginning.

Maggie Anderson, a business consultant, and her husband, John, a financial advisor, have been buying black made-products and services for all of 2009.  They call their pledge The Empowerment Experiment (EE).  Their experiment will serve as the foundation for a landmark study on self-help economics in the Black community.  They live in Oak Park, Illinois, with their two daughters; Cori 2, and Cara, who is 4.