Did George Floyd’s last gasps for air breathe new life into Black organizations, Black businesses, and the Black experience or did the knee on his neck traumatize a nation into a knee-jerk mea culpa? Without a doubt, those moments in Minneapolis created a global movement that had a rippling effect in and on corporate board rooms, professional sports teams, school classrooms, police stations, the hallowed halls of congress, and the senate as well as any and every mode of media. The fact that we saw a record nine of the twenty acting nominees for this year’s Academy Awards were people of color, or that Chief Diversity Officer in 2020 was the fastest-growing role among C-suite positions in corporate America, or that many professional athletes were vocal and visible explaining how they will now use their voice for social change, has now impacted the plight and bottom line of Black businesses in this country.
According to the most recently available census data, there are more than two million Black-owned businesses in America (only about 107,000 of them have actual employees), and Black buying power is estimated to be more than $1 trillion (yes that is trillion with a T). The cold hard sad fact is that only two percent of those trillion dollars are reinvested into Black communities. A study by the Selig Center for Economic Growth found that money circulates one time in the African American community, six times in the Latino community, and nine times in the Asian community. In white neighborhoods, money circulates nearly an unlimited number of times. There is another statistic, but I have not been able to document its validity, that says the average lifespan of the dollar is approximately 28 days in Asian communities, 17 days in white communities — and just six hours in Black communities. To have higher money circulation, Black communities need to reinvest their money into Black businesses and Black banks.
The 30 million small businesses that employ close to 48 percent of the country’s total workforce are failing at alarming rates. Twenty percent fail by the first year, 30 percent by the second, 50 percent by the fifth, and by the 10th year, a staggering 70 percent of businesses have shut off their lights. For minorities, the numbers can be even more daunting. Eight out of ten Black-owned businesses fail within the first 18 months.
The holiday season is when retailers make most of their profit for the majority of the year. They count on shoppers to help them meet their expected revenue that can make or break their bottom line. Supporting Black businesses this year can make or break their ability to stay in business and exist. Here are a few ways we all can support Black-owned businesses; tell someone and refer them to a Black-owned business or product/service, look online for Black-owned businesses, stop bad-mouthing Black-owned businesses if their service was less than stellar. We get bad service from white companies and we keep going back.
We do not have to limit supporting Black-owned businesses to just during the holidays. We should incorporate supporting them, along with supporting other minority and small businesses 365 days a year. When we choose to support Black-owned businesses, we are supporting Black pride, unity, and self-determination. Despite urban myths and flat-out lies, the white man’s ice is not colder and his sugar is not sweeter. Buy Black.
Healing Without Hate: It’s a choice. It’s a lifestyle. Pass it on.