Do you think it would be smart for black people to go back to bartering goods and services we provide each other? I have a business and my prices are low considering the services I provide because I find it very hard to charge my people. I’m always tempted to ask if the person provides a service (e.g. does hair, cuts yards, sells food,etc). that they can provide in leui of cash but I’m afraid that may not go over so well with some people

Yes, Black people have to reconstruct an alternate, or parallel economic System that exist within but without the mainstream economy.  We been doing this: from doin hair, to watchin kidz, to shade tree mechanics, to Booster supplied retail, to running numbers.  We just have to refine, politicize, and collectivize the Black economy. 

I’m old enough to remember going across the street for some sugar, a stick of butter, or couple of eggs to hold “til the stamps came in.”  In the Hood back then you had to maintain a reputation of honesty, reciprocity, and generosity cuz you knew you’d have to “have to hold somethin one day,” and people wouldn’t “let you hold somethin,” if you was stingy or didn’t play that shit forward.

Until the Black upper classes tricked the Black masses into integration the Black economy was Socialist, it was a barter, currency, and trade economy.  The Black economy was outside the American Economy, and we were getting White dollars too, back then.

We are being force to return to those days as the US post-industrial economy has no use for Black, unskilled, and even skilled labor.  If we don’t return to the barter, trade, and currency Black economy in an organized and deliberate manner we will be faced with even more social dysfunction and violence, like we had in the 80s and 90s when they first started outsourcing Black jobs and de-industrializing the urban economies. 

Now, on to the topic of your business:  charge and hold to market rates for your service and products in the market place.  You can donate, or provide under market pricing with the surplus, but only in the surplus; or else you gonna go belly up, I’m speaking from experience. 

Many of our businesses had a “pay what you can model,” but that’s harder to do now because we don’t have the community cohesion and accountability we once had.  So it’s hard to ascertain who’s really in need and who’s jerking you.

The best way to so this is to construct a formal means of giving, through an organization that can vet the needs and fill the needs.  I’ve found that our people who have the means are enthusiastic about paying you what you are asking, but there are a few who like to get over, who will try to underpay you while they stand there in Jordans and other designer labels.   

The best way to do good, to do right by the People while sustaining yourself in business is to work to reconstruct community, and do good works within that community, and demand that others that you assist make contributions when they can.  It ain’t about giving and taking, it’s about reciprocity, sharing, cooperation. 

So, organize and formalize your community, and make your business a component of a larger movement towards unity and empowerment.  As for the people who don’t want to exchange goods and services, they just want to pay and go; give the what they pay for, and build with those who understand that it’s bigger than that; they are out there, and they want to connect.