Why are we limiting the black dollar?
There is this weird stereotype that Black people are lazy or that we don’t own anything. This grossly false accusation has spread like the wildfire that burned down Black Wall Street in 1921. Now, people spit this lie through their teeth every time a discussion about the dystopia that is modern-day Black entrepreneurship.
Today’s buzz word is: Black Dollars.
It has been a buzzword for quite some time. Some of our most favorite celebs have denounced this term, while others embrace it full-fledged. But what the hell is the Black dollar? Honestly, it’s just a made up as black on black crime.
I mean, have you ever heard of the Jewish dollar or the Chinese dollar? Nope! The black dollar has become the latest obsessive buzzword that activists use to throw out the most grossly skewered statistics.
These stats ultimately are used to further their point of how Black people need to do better and overthrow the white man. This argument is exhausted, overused, overworked and needs to be retired. This idea of the black dollar comes from the spending power that black people have within the US economy, which is $1.2 TRILLION according to Forbes.
Black people make up only 14% of the nation, yet spend more than most of the country, why? Mostly because it’s easier to entice Black people to buy than to teach them to save. I’m sure your friendly neighborhood soapbox preacher has gone into great detail about working for the man is bringing us down. The only way to create real wealth is to have our own. These statements are laughable, in more ways than one. I mainly let a hearty chuckle when these soapbox preachers mention how the black communities are crumbling because Asians and Mexicans are coming in and taking over.
These will be the same people who are not buying property or adding any value to the community. When we weren’t allowed to shop, vacation, learn, or live anywhere near white people, black people created entire communities. From the clear racism and banishment from white presence, we created places like the Greenwood District, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Not only did black people create and establish their own storefronts, they also bought supplies and outsourced help from other black people. So why is it in 2019 that we are limiting the black dollar? Black entrepreneurship is not a new concept. Our establishments just get burned down or repossessed by the government when they become too powerful.
Entrepreneurship has been on a steady increase for the last 10 years. The Census Bureau reports 8 million total minority-owned small businesses. Black-owned businesses account for about 2.5 million small businesses and 10% of total US business (Investopedia). For us making up 14% of the population, I would think that 10% of all US business is an amazing feat.
Alas, roll out the hashtags #SupportBlackBusinesses #BlackDollarsMatter. Where my outrage lies is not in the business owners but in the general public. Those who know nothing of what it takes to move a business from idea to full functioning entity.
First and most importantly, I hate the idea that we should support Black businesses to “punish” businesses of other races. This trash mindset still places power into those other businesses.
If you are only supporting a Black business to spite a white one, you are still motivated by that white business. You are absolutely NOT supporting Black businesses because you genuinely want to support.
Second, when these “customers” support Black businesses they confuse small business problems with Black-owned business problems. Often expressing a passionate “this is why I don’t buy from black businesses.” Or the statement that really boils my skin “I tried to support but Black businesses are always ghetto.” I have a million flaws with these statements, but I’ll spare us all the details.
These statements are usually thrown out after ONE bad experience with ONE business. I would love to know how many of these customers have ever been racially profiled at a corner store, but still return to grab a bag of chips and a cold drink. I would also love to know how many small businesses they frequent. Comparing Fashion Nova, a multi-million dollar company, to a newly established online boutique is wildly unreasonable.
Fashion Nova has deals with suppliers and shipping companies, they have a million-dollar storage and packaging facility, along with a healthy staff to help it run. The online boutique not offering returns, or having a 5-10 business day shipping policy is NOT because it is black owned, this is because it is a SMALL BUSINESS and the owner does not have access to the same resources.
This leads me to my final fallacy, price. The idea that a small business can offer a “cheap” product shows that people have no idea how scaling a business works. We are outraged by Asian owners controlling beauty supply stores but don’t realize how they control it. The answer is suppliers. We have been so focused on Black businesses on a customer facing model, but completely neglect business facing businesses.
Asian and Jewish businesses have been able to keep costs lower because they use controlled suppliers. Who do black businesses buy from though? We buy from the same suppliers that charge 20% more which means we must spend more and sell for more. This then leads that same customer to complain about the inflated price, only to go down the street to by the same conditioner from the Asian owners. The Black dollar shouldn’t be limited to the end of the value chain.
We should be thinking about how we can scale all the way up the chain. Black-owned manufactures and suppliers are how to really retain the Black dollar. Using Black lawyers and accountants to establish our businesses. This is how we maximize the Black dollar, and we will always be stuck we don’t grasp this concept and apply it.
Mykail James is a recent MBA graduate working in accounting and finance. Boujie Budgets is a platform dedicated to teaching millennial women financial literacy. She believes that we can only live our best life when it is properly financed. IG: @Theboujiebudgeter Website: www.boujiebudgets.com