We have to keep getting out of our silos, within the co-op movement and outside this movement. We have to really practice Principle 6 of “cooperation among cooperatives.” But we also need to think about multiple stakeholders. We need more multi-stakeholder solidarity co-ops and more self-management and consensus building. We need fair-labor and fair-trade policies, and fair production/processing policies and ownership—and then need to practice those policies. We need to really practice Principle 7: concern for community. And I heard that some co-ops have a new “Principle 8” of diversity, inclusion, and equity. We can’t ignore those principles and values. In many ways, these are the cornerstones of cooperatives, but our co-op movement focuses more on the first five principles.
So, we have to stop thinking just as co-ops. We must create solidarity systems, be consciously part of the solidarity economy, and support and practice social justice. My research on African American co-op history found this to be the rule rather than the exception for Black-owned co-ops. Co-ops served an immediate need for survival or to combat market failure, but they also saw co-ops and economic cooperation as a solidarity and liberation strategy. Most of the co-ops saw themselves as part of a larger movement to benefit all Blacks—or at least all their neighbors—to solve community economic and health problems, to combat racial discrimination, to engage women and youth, to enable community ownership, and to amass collective wealth.