Black culture is everywhere — TV shows, commercials, movies, songs and all kinds of music, including jazz, country and rock. If a company or an organization wants a brand to be deemed the best, hottest, the most, oftentimes some form of African-American culture is attached to it. Cars are tricked out, jeans are dope, glasses are buffs and makeup is lit.
But with all the borrowing and making money off black culture, when does the black experience pay off for the black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs who are black every day? When does money from black culture trickle down into black-owned business, in other words the real black experience?
Most people are familiar with these stats: A dollar circulates in Asian communities for a month, in Jewish communities approximately 20 days, white communities 17 days and six hours in the African-American community. Although these numbers are unfounded, the “stat” still demonstrates that when African-American spending habits are compared to other ethnic groups, the dollar is leaving the neighborhood well before many black-owned businesses have a chance to touch it, or even see it.
“Detroit has more than 47,000 black-owned businesses. While other ethnic communities don’t hesitate to patronize or spend money with their businesses first, black people, who are 80% of the population, should aggressively seek and demonstrate the same (way of thinking),” said Dr. Kenneth L. Harris, Ph.D., president/CEO of the National Business League, Inc.
Supporting black business has always been a mantra that the Michigan Chronicle has consistently lived by. From highlighting black business through various channels to creating celebrations for African-American businesses, the importance of supporting and ultimately growing and strengthening local, minority-owned business has been our priority.
“The economic gap between African Americans and other ethnicities shows the disparity that exists on many levels, including the ability to gather wealth,” said Hiram E. Jackson, publisher of the Michigan Chronicle. “There is no easy route to financial security. However, education and entrepreneurship are well-traveled, well-proven paths. Yet, when African Americans open businesses, the community doesn’t always support them, even though the strength of a community is often predicated on the existence and sustenance of a black business. We have to fully support black businesses.”
Last week, the Michigan Chronicle hosted a panel with several African-American entrepreneurs to discuss the politics and economics of the African-American community’s green dollars remaining black. Panelists included entrepreneurs Zana Smith, owner of Spectacles; Tony Stovall, owner of Hot Sam’s; and Rufus Bartell, owner of Simply Casual Clothing Store. All three businesses are located in Detroit and all have been in business for more than 20 years.
The overall message was that support of African American-owned businesses also means supporting the communities where those businesses reside. Oftentimes, black dollars left the community, but when the community needed help, it then turned to the black business.
“We have to circulate our dollars in our neighborhoods because mainstream America doesn’t support black business like it should,” said Bartell. “Supporting black business helps to stimulate our economy and the wider economy as well.”
The panel left metro Detroiters in attendance with plenty of food for thought and hopefully a new direction for their dollar. The Michigan Chronicle didn’t stop with the panel and further leveraged, celebrated and promoted black business and organizations with the second annual Best in Black Detroit (BIB). BIB is an awards ceremony that allows the community to vote for the best in black Detroit. The best included teachers, principals and schools (Cass Technical High School racked up all three), Best Car Wash (Scotty B’s), Best Barbershop (Final Cutz), Best Local Singer (Chrissi Key), Best Comedienne (CoCo), Best Attorney (Carl Collins), Best Clothing Line (Detroit Vs. Everybody) and more. There were 43 categories in all.
All were given a nod by metro Detroit voters as the best in what they sell, serve or deliver, including the Word of God. Pastor Solomon Kinloch and his wife, Robin, were named best black pastor and first lady for the second year in a row.
In addition to the fun, laughs and jokes, the underlying sentiment was, support these businesses.
The timing for the Best in Black panel and awards show was serendipitous to black businesses as Black Friday looms ahead. According to Thebalance.com website, 30% of annual retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas. This year’s Black Friday weekend is estimated to top out at $682 billion.
If black businesses earn just one percent of that total, the total will be $60 million over the four-day weekend. If the Michigan Chronicle has its way, every day will be Black Friday and black-owned businesses will all be the Best in Black and most importantly, with a black financial statement.
“The Black community needs to ask itself, where are you spending your green dollars on Black Friday weekend and every day after that?” said Jackson.