Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Buying Black

I don't know if you know about Maggie and John Anderson. They are the Chicago couple who have dedicated their money to black-owned businesses for this entire year. It is called The Empowerment Experiment and they are half-way through. I knew about them some time ago but I wasn't keeping close track. However, the idea of keeping black money circulating within black businesses is as ingrained in me as buying American as much as possible or recycling. The couple came back to mind yesterday on the CBS Early Show, probably because it's really close to August, which is Black Business Month according to @ajlovesya over on Twitter and that one was one I didn't know about.

If you missed them on the show yesterday, here's the video, which will hopefully stay available for awhile:

Watch CBS Videos Online

Now, the one thing Maggie Anderson didn't say in response to Larry Elder that I would have said? "Are you freakin' kidding me?" I mean really. If anyone is naive enough to think that Jews don't spend with Jews and Asians don't spend with Asians and Hispanics don't spend with Hispanics then please, go off to some mountaintop to live alone with your ignorance. Of course they do! And no one is calling it racism when they do. They simply understand the value of culture and supporting their own. I am certain many of them and others of different groups at a minimum look to do business with their own first. Of course they do! It's like choosing someone over your own family to not do it. The difference is they may not make a public announcement they are doing it like the Andersons have and so no one calls them on it. Women are publicly supporting women, as we should and as I do, but I haven't heard cries of sexism. What pisses me off is when black people choose to do something others have been doing for a lifetime, suddenly we are being racist, sexist, elitist, whatever.

Here's the thing: What the Andersons are doing is very difficult. The fact is black-owned businesses are not one every corner. Hair dressers and barbers, funeral homes, churches - those are black-owned/run in abundance. Most other businesses/institutions are not. The Andersons at least have a black-owned grocery store in the vicinity. If there is one in CT, I couldn't tell you where it is. So you see, it's a big, not-so-cheap thing to do this experiment. A very big thing. And to do it is not to say they choose to sacrifice quality or customer service or anything a good business should have. Instead, I'll bet you it forces some black businesses who aren't already operating that way to get their acts straight because they are getting attention and it's good for business.

Bizzy Girl and I absolutely seek to work with our own as much as possible. In some places we've been successful. In other places, it didn't work out. So we look until we find the people - of any race - who we feel we can work with. We happily work with a variety of people but in our business and well as in our personal lives, when choosing who you will associate with in any manner, there is an order and you can't tell me it's not the same for everyone - black, Christian and female are top three for us and this order can change. Barring those categories, we want to work with American companies and keep things as close to home as we can. Family friendly matters to us as well. It's not unheard of to be selective in this manner, so why try to make it sound like the Andersons are doing something that will divide people?

As I know I've said in the past, the black race is a fractured, wounded group. We must uplift each other whenever we can. We are so far removed from the greatness we hail from that even ancestral memory is lacking and getting back that former glory must be an intentional action. We have a black president now to help remind us of this. We have people like George Fraser who have been pushing for years for us to understand the power within ourselves, advocating multiple streams of income and business ownership. The Andersons are just one of many people doing what has been the mission for as long as I can remember. Instead of criticizing this - especially black people. Come on now, black people, don't choose to malign your own. - we can choose to celebrate this not just as a race. Every race can choose to uplift their own and we can also choose to uplift each other as Americans. No one needs to be excluded. This is simply work on self that needs to be done. You know how they say you can't love others until you first learn to love yourself? Charity begins at home? That is what this is and there is no reason to apologize for it.

If you have not yet watched the CNBC special Black in America Part 2 (I don't think you can see it online yet), it would behoove you to do so and remember the power of the people.

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