Businesses are places we frequent every day. We pick up a pizza on the way home, get our nails done on Saturdays and scour the racks of consignment stores for affordable children’s clothes — that they’ll grow out of in a month! Businesses drive our communities, and the economies of those communities, which is why supporting local establishments is so important.
Having said that, black people overwhelmingly do not support black-owned businesses, which in turn don’t support the communities where black-owned businesses reside. Unlike other races and cultures — such as the Jewish, Hispanic and Chinese communities, which vigorously support one another’s businesses — black-owned business don’t get the same support within their own community. Jasmine Goodwin wrote in a blog post addressing this topic, “Unlike other races where they are prideful of their people no matter the socioeconomic status or difference in skin complexion, black people rather separate… no matter if it’s in the classroom or in the corporate world, there seems to be a hesitation in black people supporting one another.” So what’s the reason for this hesitation?
It's time to get past the stigma
There seems to be a stigma associated with African-American products. They are considered low quality and less valuable when compared with products made by another race. Despite the fact that this is not accurate, the thinking persists both within the African-American community and across all races. Lisa-Marie from lisamariepierre.com says, “We don’t like ourselves, so we don’t trust ourselves enough to support one another.” This conversation is so complex, as this obviously goes beyond a simple sale. It’s the learned associations we have made through consistent messages telling us that “black products” are not as good as “white products.”
Not only is there this idea that there's a lack of value in black-owned or produced products, but there isn’t even any money to be made in this space. However, consider, for example, that BET, Essence magazine and Dark and Lovely are all white-owned mega-successful companies, some surpassing the billion-dollar mark, and that myth can easily be dispelled. Yet it lingers. We need to eliminate these untruths so we can finally move toward change.
It is not only important for black people to support black-owned businesses, it is important for non-blacks as well. Aaron J. Barnes, founder of Dapper Black Box, says, “While authority figures and media outlets continue to devalue our existence in this country, we still turn around and invest into companies owned by people who keep that system of injustice intact... we encourage all people but especially black people of the United States to invest into our own businesses to increase the longevity and influence within our community.”
This change and shift is essential for everyone. Making a conscious shift in thinking (thoughts we all have been programmed to think) and supporting black-owned businesses can create jobs, build up communities and provide economic prosperity. In turn, this can help decrease crime by infusing money into communities, which can then support schools, libraries and community centers. The children of that community — and of all communities — who grow up seeing businesses owned by all races will understand there is a level playing field in the world of entrepreneurship and that everyone has access to the American dream. Don’t our children deserve to live in a world of diversity shown in every facet of our communities?
This comes back to everything my company, Little Proud Kid, stands for — and its entire mission. We need to be the change we want for our children. Let black children know they can be business owners themselves and show non-black kids the diversity that lies outside of chain stores.
So, we ask you in honor of Black History Month (and every month) to support a black-owned business and share a picture of that business or product with us! You can post your photo to our Facebook page, tweet us @LittleProudKid or tag us in your photo via Instagram with #LPKSupportBlackBusiness. Will you accept the challenge? If you need some inspiration to get started, here are some of our favorite black-owned businesses:
- (Yours truly) Multicultural children’s products: The Little Proud Kid Marketplace
- Women’s handbags: Double Clutched
- Online magazine: Mater Mea
- Interiors: Whitney J Decor
- Men’s fashion: Dapper Black Box
- Career coaching for working moms: Food on Our Table
- Blog: Brownmamas.com
- Jamaican restaurant (Queens, New York): The Door
Previously published by She Knows 2.20.16
Georgia Lobban is the founder of Little Proud Kid, a place to celebrate all people… one people. Little Proud Kid brings an array of multicultural toys, books, resources and more to help you teach and celebrate the uniqueness in each and every child.