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The Chinatown Example By Mark Lampkin

In the majority of urban cities throughout the United States, there exists a section of town that is populated and controlled, by people of Chinese heritage. The signage on many of the stores, restaurants, and even the street signs are in the language that they share in common. It can be a bit unsettling the first time that one who is not accustomed to this sees it because…we have no clue as to what is going on. It is not what we are used to.

It feels like we have been dropped into another country, without ever leaving home; something akin to culture shock in Your Town, USA.

In your observation, do any of those who are of Chinese heritage look confused as they go about their shopping? Are they comfortable in this environment? Do they look at you like you do not belong? Do they even notice that you are there?

The amazing thing that I have witnessed in Chinatown’s in the various cities I have visited is that they are self-sufficient. They have multiple eateries, novelty shops, doctors’ offices, dentists, banks, groceries, etc. They are not concerned with being the “only” business in that community. They co-exist. And they are successful. Why? There is an unspoken commitment to spending money in THEIR community. It is their guarantee that they will be around…even IF no one else, meaning you or I, comes there to shop.


The suppliers to many of these establishments are Asian. The eco-system that is in place is unconcerned with Facebook ads, Yelp likes, IG posts, or whether or not we are happy with their service. They KNOW that you are there to spend some money…plain and simple. If you do great. If not…next.

It gives me reason to ponder how African-American businesses could duplicate that model. One that ensures that many of the basic needs for you and your family would, and could, be met by a group of co-mingled businesses; So that we would survive, and thrive, with a sustainable marketplace that we control. And where we could employ our kids and teach them how enterprises work together for the betterment of the community.

Am I naïve to think it possible? Would we be willing to commit to such an undertaking? I am hopeful, that through the coming economic shift that could be quite devastating, that we would search out those who have what we need, and spend our dollars with them. That we will give each other the trust and respect to help us overcome those “growing pains” that are part of every business, and not vow to never “go back there again.”

Do an experiment, and go to the nearest Chinatown, and see how they do business. Witness how they go about conducting their businesses. We might all benefit from their example of cooperative economics.

Peace and prosperity.