Recent events regarding the plight of the Black community has forced a surge of revolutionary thoughts and practices. One main practical revolutionary act is tapping into the buying power of the Black community. The anti-Black declaration has re-asserted itself during the Trayvon Martin murder in 2012. Since the acquittal of murderer George Zimmerman, there has been an increase of publicized state sanctioned murders. This has forced many members of the Black community into survival mood. Black people are asking: what does self-sustainment look like?
What History has Taught Us
The early 1900s — although as tumultuous as earlier decades for Blacks — served as a glimpse into our business potential. Black-owned businesses (BOBs) ranged from cabs and banks to insurance companies.
So what happened to them?
Like anything that threatens the white power structure, our businesses were destroyed through acts of institutional and physical violence. Now here we are in 2015, where we rarely see sustainable, scalable community-based Black-owned businesses.
Yet, our buying power has surpassed 1.1 trillion dollars. That’s a whole lot of zer000,000,000,000,000s. Corporations recognized that money was more important than keeping their customers white. In that realization, our businesses were demolished, and their businesses took down the “No Colored” signs.
At first glance, early 20th century Black economic prosperity, Trayvon Martin, and the dearth of Black-owned businesses are not connected. But they are. History is always connected to our now.
The obliteration of Black businesses led to a stark decrease in resources and opportunities in our communities. The lack of resources coupled with the increase of policing makes our communities ultra vulnerable to the whims and evils of white supremacy.
We must tackle the inorganic police presence in our neighborhoods, while creating, keeping, and leveraging socioeconomic resources in our own backyards. We are p000,000,000,000,000werful.
Buying Black and buying local enables the dollar to circulate within a neighborhood before leaving its community. Currently, studies show that the Black dollar circulates for only 6 hours before it leaves our neighborhoods, and only 2 cents of every Black dollar stays in the community.
But how Sway?!?
Money is like blood; it must circulate in order to keep the neighborhood alive. When trying to imagine a self-sustaining neighborhood where the owners and employees resemble the people they serve, think of Chinatown.
In an effort to take back our power, there has been an increase of Black owned businesses from tech (WeDefineIT.com) to Black media.
What Revolution Looks Like
Some stigmatize Black businesses as unscalable ma-and-pa shops. But many BOB’s provide services that equate to or surpass mainstream competition. Yet, the rise of BOBs is not enough to sustain our gentrifying rapidly changing communities.
We must make an active effort to support these businesses. They’re not all red, black and green themed printed shirts. #BlackOutBlackFriday (2014) and #NotOneDime (2015) were a successful series of protests and digital campaigns where people pledged to show their discontent with the system that profits off of our culture, community, and underpaid workers by not participating in Black Friday.
And now, let’s take it a step further by spending our cash at Black-owned businesses throughout the year.