(Photo: Joe Brusky / Flickr)

These are snapshots of the struggles and successes for a so-called new economy — the fight for a people- and planet-first world that is more equitable, sustainable and democratic. And this shift is being pioneered by the black community. In other words, the Movement for Black Lives is the new economy movement and has been for decades.

Take farmer cooperatives, for example. After being barred from the Southern Farmers’ Alliance, southern black farmers founded the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Cooperative Union in 1886. Their purpose was to “elevate the colored people of the United States, by teaching them to love their countries and their homes; to care more for their helpless, sick and destitute” and “become … less wasteful in their methods of living.” The union peaked at about 1 million members in 20 states, and it was a key force in the populist movement, the formation of independent parties and the fight for voting rights in the 19th century.

This is just one sound bite from the profound history of the people- and planet-first agenda. So the new economy movement is, in many ways, not new and has deep roots in black community organizing.

Yet black liberation continues to be sidelined in its thinking and action. Today’s new economy movement has predominately white leadership, overemphasizes class without race and has offered solutions that disproportionately disrupt black communities.

Mandisa Routheni is the New Mexico Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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