Sunday, August 13, 2006
Buying Black: The Problems We Have Building Wealth Within Our Community
After an unannounced week-long hiatus (my bad!), I'm back and I'm wondering, when was the last time you patroned a black-owned business? When was the last time you made it a point to seek out a black person to perform a service that you need (i.e., plumber, painter, doctor, lawyer, etc.)? Chances are that you, like the majority of black folks, do not make it a point to find a black person when you are trying to spend money. This is why black folks, unlike other racial/nationality groups, have been seemingly unable to build wealth within our own community.
Black folks spend over $650 billion in the general marketplace (statistic provided courtesy of The African-American Connection, a website designed to encourage spending within the black community -- www.aaconnection.com), but how much of that money do we actually keep in our communities? The answer is very little. We are more likely to give our money to everybody else BUT us. THIS MUST CHANGE!!!! Where possible, I always try to find a black person with whom I can spend my money. For instance, both my daughter and I have black doctors and a black dentist. However, I am only one person, and cannot do it alone. We must ALL do it to really effect change.
Playing devil's advocate, I have heard the complaint (and am guilty of making it also) that black businesses tend to be unprofessional in how they deal with their customers, and our frustration with that deters us from using black businesses in the future. However, I'm sure we've all had bad experiences with non-black businesses also; so its really not fair for us to hold black folks to a higher standard. I can understand if you don't want to use that particular business anymore, but I'm sure you can find another black-owned business that can do a good job.
If you look at other communities, namely Jewish and Asian communities, they do a superb job of keeping wealth "in the family." Many times, they almost exclusively use services or buy goods from their own. They are also quick to seek and offer referrals to each other to maintain the wealth within their communities. I understand that these groups differ from us in that they willingly came to this country to benefit from its opportunities, but at some point we have to stop making excuses and just make it happen.