With mounting protests against police brutality, calls to defund the police and to dismantle systemic, structural racism has also come the resurgence of an old, but ever-important call for Black Americans to use our economic power to push our agenda.
There are the efforts to boycott companies that have exhibited biased polices and practices or whose leaders support policies and people that are against the best interests of Black folk.
Lists of businesses with CEOs that have reportedly contributed to Donald Trump’s campaign or establishments where acts of racism have been perpetrated are circulating across the social media stratosphere. Armed with that information, Black consumers are urged to no longer patronize these companies. And that is a start.
Still, it will take more than economic boycotts.
Even more vital than boycotts are the buy-ins—the need for Black Americans to use their considerable economic power to support, build and strengthen their communities by keeping more of our hard-earned money within the same.
And with that, leaders are breathing new life into the call to support Black-owned businesses as a way to corral economic power and promote change.
Of course, here at McKenna Publishing, the call to support Black-owned businesses has been our mantra for 35 years. We have always understood the importance of using our economic power to build and strengthen our own communities, knowing that no one will save us, but us.
Coalitions across the country are calling on Black consumers to not only recognize the magnitude of their spending power, but to use it as a tool to address other issues that impact the Black community, particularly as a new generation finds itself protesting against issues such as police brutality and are faced with how to turn these demonstrations into transformative movements with long-lasting impact.
Black people want change. And as it turns out, the change we have been seeking is still in our pockets.
For example, one statistic tells that if Black consumers, who only spend an average of six cents of every dollar they spend with Black owned businesses, would double their spending to 12 cents per dollar, Black businesses could create nearly 600,000 new jobs, helping to address the disproportionate rate of Black unemployment.
So the question is how can the momentum of these protests and the call to support Black owned businesses be used to create solutions that improve the conditions of entire communities?
Yes. We have talked about the importance of supporting Black-owned businesses before in the pages of this publication and it bears repeating. We have to do more.
In other words, this cannot and must not be a trend or a fad. It must be consistent, deliberate and unapologetic in order to have the desired impact.
African-Americans currently spend about six percent of their money with Black owned businesses. That means the other 94 percent is being spent outside of our community—with many of the very people, entities and organizations that we identify as our oppressors.
The fact is that we cannot spend 94 percent of our money outside of our community and then blame others for 100 percent of our problems. That does not make sense. It doesn’t make dollars either.
The change that we are looking for can begin with us and how we strategically spend our money to build and protect our communities.
If you still need a good reason to support a Black-owned business today and every day, here are five:
Help Close the Racial Wealth Gap
The origins of today’s racial wealth gap can be traced back to Jim Crow-era practices like redlining and job discrimination—government-sanctioned policies designed to marginalize African Americans and keep them from higher paying jobs and homeowner ownership opportunities that ultimately prevented wealth building. The Social Security Act of 1935 also excluded many Black domestic and agricultural workers, and its requirements for residency and payroll information also excluded the large number of African Americans working “off the books” jobs and migrating North at the time.
However, small businesses and entrepreneurs have been longtime wealth builders in our society. By supporting more Black-owned businesses, we can create more opportunities for meaningful savings, property ownership, credit building and generational wealth.
Strengthens Local Economies
When Black businesses flourish, so do our communities. If consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the entire US economy, imagine what directing some of that spending power to Black-owned businesses across the country can do. Supporting Black-owned businesses in turn supports families, employees, and other business owners, as well as attracts community investors who provide banking services, loans, and promote financial literacy–all things that build economic strength.
Many African-American business owners fund their own businesses out of pocket because of the lack of access to capital. Still, Black-owned businesses—as a whole—are the second largest employer of Black people. Since Black-owned businesses are likely to hire from the local community, supporting them can foster the job opportunities people need to achieve financial stability.
Celebrates Black Culture
and Serves Communities
Many Black entrepreneurs start businesses inspired by the richness of African-American culture itself–Black-owned clothing stores, hair care and make-up products, and children’s toys are just a few examples. And some Black-owned businesses are created to bring access to services specific to the community’s needs. These kinds of business ventures uplift communities, fostering a sense of pride in the people that live there. When you support Black-owned businesses, you get products that are valuable for the unique character they bring.
When you choose a Black-owned business instead of other problematic companies (such as Starbucks or Gucci), you vote with your dollar by divesting from these kinds of practices and hold companies accountable. And further down the road, you empower successful minority-owned businesses to implement equitable policies. So instead of complaining about Gucci or Starbucks, let’s support each other.