There are 43 million black people living in the U.S. according to the most recent Census Bureau— (that’s a lot of black people!) Somewhere in that number are a whole bunch of blacks who own or operate a business for themselves or for someone else who is black— (still a lot of black people). Knowing this, and knowing that it is humanly impossible to keep track of every single black person doing their thing in the business world, how can some black consumers put all black business owners and/or operators in a box and negatively generalize their work ethic, brand, service or product?
While we’d like to think a bunch of black consumers aren’t guilty of negative generalizations, I’m here to tell you, they are! I cannot speak for every black consumer, but let’s just say I’ve heard negative generalizations about black businesses more than I would have liked in my adult life.
So I ask, where is this mentality stemming from? Why do some black consumers believe black business owners aren’t capable of doing what we’ve been getting done for hundreds of years? And why do some black consumers let one bad experience with a black business, dictate the outcome for the thousands of black businesses that are doing well?
I decided to come up with my own answer to this based on what I see, hear, read about and based on a few of my own experiences. Firstly, for some black consumers, supporting black businesses is not that important to them-- it’s that simple. While this may be a current reality, I can’t see how a black consumer can’t find the importance in supporting at least ONE black business consistently. Think about it, if blacks never supported hair relaxer companies, hot comb companies, refrigerator companies, and good ol’ peanut butter brands, where would those products be today? Those products were created by black people and it was with the support of black people that those products surpassed people’s expectations. I can carry on-and-on about how many services and products blacks are responsible for, but it’s not about that…moving on.
Secondly, some black consumers have lost faith in black businesses based on one or very few incidences of their own. In spite of how many terrible occurrences some black consumers have had with other races/cultures in business, they still give their money to them and totally give up on black businesses after one mishap. As a result, they categorize the rest of black businesses, even though they know nothing about it. From shopping at beauty supply stores owned by Pakistanis, to supporting large white-owned retailers, these same black consumers would rather spend their dollars with non-blacks (getting poor treatment might I add), instead of patronizing ONE black-owned business in good faith. Nothing’s wrong with shopping at a Jewish-owned meat market or an Italian bakery; black people aren’t the only ones good at a service or creating a product. But totally neglecting spending black dollars at black businesses altogether, is something some black consumers should reconsider. Somewhere along the lines of patronizing black businesses, black consumers lost confidence in their people.
I know a black woman. She sells a variety of products through her small business. Recently, a customer returned one of her products and said, “Your customer service is terrible. I tried to support my own kind, but this is why I can’t!” I was so disheartened to hear this. That customer made such a rash and racially prejudiced comment about her experience with the product and the business, and gave up on her people just like that. It was then I knew, black businesses and the mindset of some black consumers, are in trouble.
I’ll leave with this. There are registered black-owned businesses across all 50 states in this country. The businesses range from non-profit organizations, to corporations, to small businesses ran by sole proprietors. Whatever they are, or whatever it is you have interest in, it is very necessary for black dollars to go back into black owned businesses. Not because it’s a race thing, but because we need to go back to developing trust in black industries and establishments that are able to provide top-quality and innovative service/products to millions of black consumers everywhere.
Let me know your thoughts, and in the meantime, go ahead and keep using that Miss Jessie’s in your fro, (WHICH by the way is one of our upcoming sponsors for an event next month) …. I see you!
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