All Articles Tagged "buying black"
For many people, the answer to curbing a lot of the social injustices that we as Black folks face has been to put money back into the community. I’ve been sent messages about it, seen it on social media, and read about the lengths that we should go to build ourselves up. Boycott mainstream businesses, back Black businesses. I couldn’t knock the idea because, to be honest, I didn’t have a better plan of action to offer. So I tried it. And if I’m being honest, I’ve been a bit disappointed.
I think it’s nice that we encourage one another to help Black businesses grow, but someone needs to tell a few of these business owners to help their customers out, too.
Just this morning I lugged my heavy bicycle, which needed new inner tubes for both wheels, about 15 minutes to a Black-owned bike shop (that also doubles as a West Indian record shop). It was supposed to be open at 10 a.m., but when I got there close to 11 a.m., lo and behold, the gate was down and there were no signs of life. For a minute there, I assumed they had closed down long ago and maybe I had just missed the memo. But when I called the number on the business’ sign, the owner picked up.
“Hello?” he said in the flattest way possible.
“Uh, is this the bicycle shop?” I asked.
“Yeah. I’m running a little late,” he said in response, already sounding exasperated.
“Oh, okay. So you’re on your way now?”
“Yeah,” he said. “I’ll be there in like 15 minutes.”
I hung up. I ended up looking at my phone to see if there were any other bike repair shops in the area. No dice. One shop that I saw and knew of, but was a 10-minute train ride away, had been open since 8 a.m. They weren’t Black-owned, but I was sick of standing in the heat and tired of lugging my bike around. The only thing that kept me from seeking out the services of the shop was the fact that UberXL prices would have been too high to get me there. Plus, those prices didn’t include the cost for the two inner tube replacements. So I kept waiting. And waiting. The owner would eventually show up, but he would need to make me wait a bit longer. Why?
“I have to go to the bathroom. I don’t even know if I can make it to the bathroom” he said.
So I waited some more. About 10 minutes later, and after what I assumed was a hearty bowel movement, the owner came back out. Two more customers had approached the shop. He pointed to a man with a specially-made BMX bike. When I stated to the owner that I had been waiting longer, he said, “I don’t know who was waiting first, but he was waiting across the street.”
And the fact that he had no problem with that, that he didn’t at one point ever apologize for his unprofessionalism or offer to let me cool off inside of his shop, irked the hell out of me. It was in those moments, as I stood in the heat with my heavy bike, that I said to myself, “See, this is why people end up avoiding Black businesses.”
Trust me when I say that I’ve tried. I tried with the beautician who asked for a picture of my locs before my appointment. When I got to her shop, she waited for me to get my hair washed and sit in her chair before telling me that my hair was thicker than my picture. Because of that, she would need to charge me more. (Did I also mention that she asked me to let her assistant finish my hair so she could go to bed early?)
I tried multiple times (literally I’ve been left sitting outside) with the smoothie shop that is supposed to be open at 10 a.m. on Sundays but doesn’t open until after 4 p.m.
I tried with the restaurant that charged my debit card twice and then left my food sitting on the ledge for about 10 minutes before my fiancé had to direct someone to get it.
I tried with the necklace maker on Etsy who sent my jewelry late, only for it to break months down the line.
I tried with the hair braider who also had me standing outside in the heat. When she braided my hair, she took breaks to eat potato chips before touching my hair with her greasy hands.
And I tried with the Black MUA who wouldn’t answer my phone calls for a consultation. Funny thing is, she had an attitude when she called me back the next day and I said I was no longer interested in securing an appointment for my upcoming wedding.
I’ve really tried, folks. But I’m getting really tired of the shenanigans.
Don’t get me wrong. There really are great Black businesses and business owners out there. The people at Khamit Kinks who do my hair in Boerum Hill are great. Peaches in Bed-Stuy has some great employees, as does the bar Bed-Vyne Brew. The nail salon I visit every now and then in Stuyvesant Heights (shout out to Very Polished Nail Lounge) is pretty awesome, too. Still, it took me a while to think of those places as opposed to the many places and business owners I’ve dealt with who acted as though they could care less about their customers.
I still believe that it’s important to enrich the communities that we live in. Black folks are truly more powerful than people give us credit for. If we were all to pull together and start buying Black more often, it could be a wake-up call to the world around us. But in order for many of us to feel comfortable moving on from what we’re used to and gleefully start supporting one another, a lot of people need to get their sh-t together.
Open your shops on time. Stop thinking it’s okay to open up late without offering a discount or at least an apology for the time wasted. Stop double booking. Stop hiring people who aren’t serious about doing the job asked of them. Stop doing what you think is best as opposed to what the customer asked for. And most importantly, stop acting as though because you’re Black and I’m Black, I should get over bad business practices and support you no matter what. Trust me when I tell you, ain’t nobody got time (or money) for that.
Every time an unarmed or non-threatening Black body is gunned down by a police officer, a feeling of powerlessness swirls around the pit of my stomach. Last week, when Delrawn Small, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed by officers within 72 hours of one another, I was gutted by the familiar news. Despite body cameras, taped murders, peaceful protests and all other efforts to convince the system that Black lives matter, three more Black men were added to the lists of our people killed by police. And what’s worse is we’re all silently bracing ourselves for more of this madness. With that feeling swirling within me, I realized our actions thus far have been an ineffective defense against crooked killer cops and systemic racism. Peace and love to everyone on the front lines, but police culture hasn’t changed, America hasn’t changed, and it’s time we fight back with the only color with real power in this country – green.
According to a recent Nielsen report, Black spending power has been greatly underestimated and stands to be unprecedented in coming years. In 2015, our economic and social influence reached a tipping point, with our buying power reaching $1.2 trillion and set to hit $1.4 trillion by 2020. Blacks are not only making more moola, but we also play an integral part in how and what brands market. In addition to telling us what we already know, like our influence on culture (hi, #BlackTwitter), the report showed that we’re becoming more affluent, more tech-savvy and are in a great position to begin building our wealth by buying Black.
Encouragement for Blacks to spend solely at Black-owned businesses is not a new movement. Every year, especially around holidays, there’s a call to spend our money at institutions that align with the Black agenda, which is simply for us to gain honest-to-God political, social and economical equality. In recent years, organizations such as Let’s Buy Black, multimedia platforms like Black & Sexy TV, Minister Louis Farrakhan and author Maggie Anderson’s book Our Black Year have further promoted the need for Blacks to consume from our own. Just imagine if we put our money back into our own pockets? How incredibly empowering that would be. If our spending power is what “they” say it is, we could have more Fortune 500 companies that give Blacks a seat at the table, better schools that lead to us obtaining more education, less impoverished communities where a lot of police brutality occurs and an overall greater voice for social justice. To loosely quote Lil’ Kim, money, power and respect is the key to life.
Better yet, money is power and allocating our funds strategically could cripple the system that works against us every day. As Atlanta Blackstar stated, “If #BlackLivesMatter, it also means that they must matter to Black people and that we can no longer pay good money to finance our own oppression.” We can no longer simply pray and vote our way to change, because let’s be honest, how well has that worked out for us so far? By buying Black, we have a real shot at closing financial and racial gaps. It’s deeper than trigger-happy cops. The entire system was created to stomp out our magic, and it’s time to regain control by erecting a new Black Wall Street.
Freedom ain’t free, y’all, but paying the price with more Black bodies? The cost is too high. It may take us an extra hour searching for a Black-owned gas station, but if losing our favorite non-Black nail technician or restaurant will help us leverage the power hanging over our heads, buying Black is our best bet to a more productive future. Let the record show that change is not out of our reach. It’s just time to let the money talk for us.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been taught to buy black. If there were a white mechanic in the neighborhood and a black mechanic 30 minutes away, who charged a bit more, in financially fit times, my father would have opted for the black mechanic. This behavior was drastically different than my maternal grandfather’s. A Jamaican living in Indianapolis, Indiana, my grandfather didn’t always view American blacks in the most positive light. In fact, his sentiments would lead you to believe he regarded them as inferior– and he might have. Though, in his defense, he’s grown over time.
But buying black was an important lesson I learned at the crib. One that stuck with me once I got a little money of my own…which was just three years ago really.
I can honestly say that I do as much, if not more shopping online than I do in actual stores. Everything is at your disposable on the internet in ways that the stores are drastically limited. And not only that, on the internet, you’re more than likely to find more black owned and operated businesses. There’s jewelry made by black women. (Earrings are my everything.) Books written by black women, businesses run by black women and unique, one of a kind clothes designed, made and shipped to your apartment or workplace by black women. It’s a beautiful thang. And I’m happy to support even if it means I end up spending a few dollars more than I would have if I bought said item from a white and or mainstream outlet.
Now, please know that my money is not long. With rent, student loans, regular utilities and other things that come up, I don’t have an extensive shopping budget. But as hard as I work, every month I have to buy myself at least one something nice.
In November it was a necklace from Peace Images Jewelry. In December, it was a Boxing Kitten dress. For Christmas I asked my sister to buy me an Ifenkili pillow and earlier this week I was looking at a $55 sweatshirt from Quelly Rue Designs. The sweatshirt featured a simple design on a plain, solid colored hoodie. I showed it to my sister telling her I was thinking about buying it. She agreed it was cute; but when she saw the price tag, her immediate reaction was, as it often is, “I can make that.” My sister, the artsy one, is probably right. But would she actually make it. Probably not. But that’s not the issue, I was contemplating buying the hoodie because the design, although simple, was still beautiful and the designer was a black woman. Historically, that’s been a good reason to spend $10, $20, even $50 dollars more than what I would pay somewhere else.
I support black women because one day I know I’ll need the same and I believe in karma. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. My father, who recently started up his own business selling and installing blinds and window fixtures works with all types of people. But recently he had a client, a black man, who said that he was buying from my father, though he probably could have gotten a lower quality product for less, because he was a black man and he was trying to support his business. As a black woman with a dream, that will ultimately require the financial support of others, it’s important that I regard these women and their products as I would hope they would one day do for me.
Do you go out of your way to patronize black businesses? Are you willing to pay more to buy their products?
There’s always lots of talk about “buying black” but few people actually do it. A few years ago, Chicago mother Maggie Anderson made her family put their money where their mouth is and for an entire year they only bought black—which she says wasn’t as easy as it sounds.
“What we found was when we went to the West Side, yes, there were some black businesses, but they are all concentrated in the stereotypical black industries: soul food restaurants, barber shops, braiding salons,” she told Fox news. “We could not find those basic things that every community needs to survive: a grocery store, dry cleaner, department store, general merchandise, mom and pop shops.”
Going beyond the lack of retailers. Maggie said most of the businesses she did find weren’t owned by people in the community and they didn’t employ people from the community either.
“We have all these consumers with hard-earned wealth spending money at businesses, and that money exits the community and goes to empower other people’s communities when our communities need that money.”
To bring about awareness of the struggling black economy and encourage consumers to follow in her footsteps, Maggie detailed her experience in the book, Our Black Year. Now that a couple of years have passed since the experiment, she says “It’s turning into a movement.”
“This came out of a conversation that happens among a lot of African American middle class households. We remember a time when we didn’t have these problems because we had local businesses that kept our communities strong. Those businesses are gone.
“We figured maybe if we did something extreme to bring that issue into the national dialogue, we can get folks to start supporting the few great businesses that we do have and maybe inspire economic empowerment.”
Check out Maggie’s interview here. Have you ever tried to only buy black?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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The East coast is waking up this morning to the total devastation caused by the quake, which rattled the seaboard Tuesday afternoon. The massive 5.9 quake, which could be felt as far away as Canada, left miles and miles of busted flowerpots, overturned lawn chairs and shattered glass from fallen picture frames in its path. Now the clean-up must begin. And by clean-up I mean all the great discounts and “I Survived the Great Earthquake of 2011” sales, which will probably be going on in your neighborhood soon.
But if you are black, you may want to reconsider who or what you spend your money on, according to a recent article, Black Buying Power: Watch Where You Spend Your Money. The article suggests that African-Americans have been and continue to be underestimated, underserved, disrespected and misunderstood by the consumer market. Blacks collectively have a buying power estimated at around $857 billion annually, yet car manufacturers, the entertainment industry and even the NAACP, have neglected to market directly to this powerful demographic. All told, corporations spend about $263.7 billion annually on advertising, yet marketers have a tendency to lump people into simple groups without considering individual needs and diversity.
The article concludes with a quote from Ken Smikle of Target Market News, suggesting that, “consumers have economic buying power that needs to be used better in their own self-interest. African American consumers should be asking if the brand (or store) they are purchasing from is making a contribution to the black community or investing in the black consumer market?” I’m not quite sure how having a corporation marketing directly to us particularly benefits us economically, but I will bite.
Do corporations respect us as consumers? Well that answer is subjective and based on how much they spend in marketing dollars. If a corporation who markets directly to black folks has a record of racial discrimination in their company or sells a product which might be unhealthy and downright bad for the community, I don’t see how putting a bunch of black folks in a television advertisement is a sign of respect. If anything this counter-productive message of catering to the black consumer market, also known, as black buying power, sounds more like a clever marketing ploy to make black folks feel empowered through further exploitation.
Back in 2008 Jared Ball, contributor to the Black Agenda Report, explored this topic in an a series of essays, in which he suggested that, “Myths of Black America’s “buying power” continue to confuse just how bad things really are or how this ‘permanent recession’ is an economic and social necessity. This myth is meant to shift the blame of poverty onto the poor and suggests that economic inequality is more an issue of pathological behavior than a scientific inevitability.
For decades many articles, particularly in black publications, have been pushing this myth of the almighty black dollar. Recently, several articles have begun to resurface around the subject, many asserting that by the year 2012 black folks will have a buying power of $1.2 trillion dollars. As huge as that number sounds, the reality is that there is no collective $1.2 trillion we as a people can choose to spend. If so, in which bank is this money located and can I get a copy of the account number?
In fact, the average married black household’s income is around $48,000 – less for a single parent household. Moreover, in terms of income, the gap between whites and blacks has nearly quadrupled in the last 30 years, mainly because blacks typically earn 68 cents for every dollar whites earn. Add to this the above average unemployment rate among African- Americans and the fact that the housing bust wiped out whatever equity black folks had been able to accumulate, and you should start to see the full picture of economic power the collective black community really has.
As consumers, African-Americans typically spend on telephone services, personal care products and services, electricity, natural gas, children’s apparel and shoes. Blacks typically spend a higher proportion of their income on groceries and housing. According to one study, blacks in lower-income neighborhoods are more reliant on smaller grocery stores which carry more expensive goods. The same could be said for housing, transportation and car insurance. This should let us know that there are plenty of other barriers in place, including racism and classism, which seem to prohibit blacks from capitalizing economically on so-called disposable income. Likewise, the growth of black businesses has yet to be allowed equal access to markets where black folks tend to shop for phone service, electricity; natural gas and groceries. So it is inevitable that the “black dollar” will always find a route out of the community.
It is important to debunk the illusion of the black buying power because it asserts the fallacy of affluence over the tide in which the market travels. If our collective influence really mattered in this country then blacks would have power over the Democratic Party. The reality is that collective buying power is just a catchy slogan for us to engage in more conspicuous consumption. Which is why you have people like Souljah Boy, trying to buy a $25 million airplane and the guy up the street rocking $500 Louis Vuitton sneakers. Kanye West said it best, “we trying to buy back our forty acres.”
However, $743 billion is a lot of money in aggregated income and we should not be fooled into believing that corporate America hasn’t long realized this. It is the reason why Newports,Old English Malt Liquor and predatory loans are popular brands in the community, which only goes to prove that having the ability to make choices between one exploitative product and another can’t be confused with power.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
by Selam Aster
Ever since Groupon popped up on the scene, there have been tons of copycats. Most recently, a culturally targeted copycat has emerged by the name of Black Biz Hookup – a very welcome addition to black business owners. Black Biz Hookup offers daily deals via email to customers from Black-owned businesses in major cities.
We give the company an A for concept as this offers a wonderful solution to the whole idea of “buying black” and reinvesting in our communities. But we must give it a C, for now, for organization. Amidst news of their launch, their site has been periodically going down, preventing many from signing up for their daily deals. Also, when you search for the company, the first search result you get is that of its facebook page, with its company page nowhere in site. Most black people know that poor execution and infrastructure plagues many black businesses, unfortunately, and we would have liked to see Black Biz Hookup get off to a proper and professional start. Visit their website to learn more about the company and sign up for their deals.
(Empowerment Experiment )
I have no will power. Well…at least when it comes to shopping. I’ve tried shopping “black” a hundred times, but always lose the gumph! Having lived in D.C. and Brooklyn, one would think it’d be easy. Unfortunately, Koreans don’t have a drop of black in them and the Pakistanis on the corner accept card and cash.