"...the need is great, the cause is worthy, and our consciences are clear."
--Maggie Anderson, "Our Black Year - One Family's Quest to Buy Black in America's Racially Divided Economy"
Why Buy from a Black Owned Business?
Have you wondered why a growing number of people are calling for consumers to spend their money with Black businesses? Well, hopefully this list will give you some idea of why making a decision to shift even a small portion of your money will make a big difference to many in this underserved group.
Have you ever analyzed how your money is being spent in the first place? It may surprise you to find out just how much of your well earned dollars are being spent outside of your local community. When I did this exercise over 25 years ago using the practical worksheets found in "Black Economics" by Jawanza Kunjufu, I was shocked. I found that over 97% of all money spent on food, clothing, shelter was spent with non-Black businesses. Somehow seeing it in black and white inspired me to make a change.
#1 You can vote with your dollars
Each day that you are able to support a Black owned business, you are making a conscientious and strategic decision to invest in an institution that shares your interests/values. Select as you wish. If you appreciate a diverse workforce, find one like that. If you value support of local craftspeople, find one like that. The decision is yours, and you have a greater chance of actually meeting the owner of the business so you can make your preferences known and possibly effect product mix and staff selection.
#2 You and your family can interact directly with role models of Black excellence in business.
.It's one thing to tell your son/daughter they can grow up to be the owner of a large company, and it is another to let them meet someone who has accomplished that. Seeing is believing and it is easier to convince someone of what they can do with live examples before their eyes. Mainstream media doesn't provide this readily, so it is most important to actively seek out people to "show and prove" yourself. Meeting or hearing or reading about entrepreneurs like John H. Johnson of John H. Johnson in "Empire: The House that John H. Johnson Built", Don Hayner (Chicago's first Black Banker) or Reginald Lewis of Beatrice Foods are inspiring and provide specific reference points to speak from. In other words, since they did it, so can you. This cultivates a sense of cultural pride.
#3 Brings Resources into the Community
Although African-Americans make up about 13 percent of the US population, Black-owned businesses only account for up to 9% of all US businesses. On the lowest end of the statistic is 2.2% for Black owned businesses but that is for those that have employees according to 2018 US Census Bureau's Business Survey On the high end of the statistic, Black businesses *with employees* represent 9% of all US business (according to Minority Business Ownership: Data from the 2012 Survey of Business Owners) . Level out the playing field and support a Black owned business in the community so that more resources are allocated by the state to the area. When Black-owned businesses collect sales taxes, those funds go directly into the resources allocated to the area such as emergency services, transportation, parks and schools.
4. Provides jobs to the community
Did you know that small businesses provide 47% of all jobs available in the private sector according to an SBA article written in 2018? With that in mind, supporting a Black business could greatly impact community employment because Black business are more likely to hire Black people than our non-Black counterparts according to a study done in 2001 by Institute for Research on Poverty. Though this article is a bit dated, it seems safe to assume the numbers haven't moved at all if we judge it on overall racial tensions stoked by government sanctioned widescale mistreatment by police. In other words, since government agencies like the police can get away with murdering employees like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, it doesn't follow that the private sector would have incentive to treat its workforce any better. Every job counts and there is an inverse correlation between jobs and violence. When jobs go up, violence goes down When we think about it, without the ability to feed, clothe and provide housing for oneself, it places a person in a vulnerable position. A feeling of desperation can push many to the brink to do anything to preserve their lives. Being able to provide for self and family is a human right. It is one of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights" according to the United Nations. Providing jobs goes a long way in providing viable options to criminal behavior.
#5. Provides Internal Reparations
The Reparations Movement started much earlier than the formal request of Rep. John Conyers' bill proposal in 1989 with H.R.40 Bill, called "Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act." In fact, the first recorded request for slavery was in 1783 according to the ACLU site. While John Conyers' bill was continuously unsuccessful when brought to Congress, buying Black can begin the shift of financial resources to a community that is still suffering from the long term effects of slavery - psychologically, economically, politically, and all 9 areas of people activity as stated by Dr. Frances Cress Welsing in "The Isis Papers." Recycling more of our hard earned income back into the community is an investment that has high paying dividends and only requires a change in behavior by those who stand to benefit from it the most. It is empowering to take action where and when we can. No need to march, petition, beg or wait to make this change.
Nzingha Nommo is owner and founder of Afriware Books, Co., a Black owned business who has served the community for over 27 years. Check out her website at: www.afriwarebooks.com