The Power of the Black Dollar
It would come as a surprise to many that Black people are not the number one spenders in the United States. Where we do bypass other races in spending is for things such as clothing, cars and jewelry. Our community outspends their white counterparts of a similar income by 30% when it comes to these kinds of items. The year of 2020 has granted us many things, among them being the vision to see things for what they truly are, so it is hard to deny the lack of Black millionaires and billionaires throughout the United States. In the United States 18.6% of the population are millionaires, of that amount only 8% of those millionaires are black, and even that amount is grouped with Asian Americans. There are currently only seven African American billionaires in the United States, the US has 788 total. As we know in this America Black people have to work twice as hard to receive what is deserved, but sometimes you have to wonder, where can we start to help move Black entrepreneurs up the economic ladder?
In the past few years big companies like Amazon, Walmart, Target and Apple have dominated the holiday season in sales. For obvious reasons, this holiday season was very different than most; if we can not be crowded around the Thanksgiving table with family then we are not wanting to be crowded in the store with strangers. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic Amazon reported seeing a surge in online shoppers and USPS became in desperate need of many more delivery drivers. Online sales shot up by 4% in the last year due to the many stay at home orders all over the United States. When you go online shopping it’s easy to stick with the stores and boutiques that you are familiar with but you have to wonder, with all that has been made clear to us this year, what do these big corporations really do for you?
Although Target has made major strides in bringing Black brands into their storefront companies like Amazon are very contradictory with their support towards minorities. Jeff Bezos has attempted to show his support for Black Lives Matter while allowing his company to have commercial partnerships with police forces across the United States. Walmart also has a long problematic history of exploiting their African American workers by providing them inadequate health insurance along with insufficient paid leave. Apple was a little late to joining the support Black Lives bandwagon by allowing Siri to know the difference between “All lives matter” and “Black Lives Matter”. So after supporting these companies for so long take a step back and think how do these companies better your community?
In hindsight it seems as though these rallies for support and large donations to Black causes are ingenuine. Throughout this pandemic I have observed many young people stepping in and showing out in activism, donations and physical support. Not only young people but young businesses as well, the pandemic and being forced to sit inside has sparked creativity within many of us. In quarantine we have seen an influx of new businesses and entrepreneurs of all ages, the stay at home orders have allowed many of us to tap into our entrepreneurial mindset. Yet when we witnessed a repetition of injustice in our country occurring with no choice but to watch, we all took our call to action in a variety of ways. The ones who could no longer sit still and watch innocent black people die took to the streets to protest boldly through a global pandemic. The silent superheroes are the Black businesses that gave much of their proceeds towards legal fees, food and overall support to protestors. After all that 2020 has thrown at the Black community it is time that we continue to support and invest into each other.
Ujamaa means cooperative economics, which has been brought to life through the Buy Black movement. What does that look like for the Black community in the long run though? As much as we love to buy designer clothes and get fly in order for our community to elevate our finances , and ultimately class, truly implementing cooperative economics looks less like spending money on items that you can not afford to buy twice. As a consumer our aim going forward should be to continue to pour into and amplify the Black businesses who are working to ensure not only support, but quality merchandise for the Black community. For entrepreneurs, cooperative economics looks like continuing to invest in your company and as you rise not forgetting how far the Black dollar has taken your business. As the great Ms. Toni Morrison once said “The function of freedom is to free someone else”. So as we continue to see Black businesses being created and popping up more, begin to favor the companies that favor you. As we envision a future of Black millionaires and billionaires let us also work towards a community of support where the Black dollar always comes back to build up the Black community.