The Dallas Examiner
The racial wealth gap is a growing trend that continues to grow each year for Black people. The Institute of Policy Studies found that the average Black family would need 228 years to build the same wealth as White families.
What most of these studies don’t show Black people is that this gap can narrow sooner if the Black community establishes a strong economic base.
“The racial wealth gap will close when we commit to building,” said Boyce Watkins, renowned business scholar and creator of The Black Business School. “The Black unemployment problem will not be solved until we solve the Black entrepreneurship problem.”
African Americans have suffered discrimination for 500 years, and it has been 95 years since Black people had a strong economic structure like the 1921 Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was destroyed during a deadly race riot, to counteract these issues.
There has been a resurgence of Black organizations and support throughout the country geared toward pushing for more entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and empowerment in the community through the national Buy Black movement. More people are becoming interested in what this movement is about and how to join.
Black capitalism and the Buy Black mission roots can be traced back years ago during the Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey era, when activists were pushing African Americans to do business with their own and for their own to create better circumstances for the people at large.
After the national recognition of the killings of Black citizens and the Black Lives Matter movement, social media reintroduced these ideas and gave attention to movements that piggybacked off Washington and Garvey’s ideologies such as #BuyBlack and #BankBlack movements.
Most people are aware of the movement, but they don’t fully understand why it is important and its potential. Amefika Geuka, co-founder of The One Million Conscious and Conscientious Black Contributors and Voters movement, said supporting Black business could help improve African Americans’ influence on the formation of public policies by creating a strong force and economic institution to fight against the opposition.
Geuka’s partner, James Clingman, The One Million co-founder and founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, added on to this ideology, stating that Black dollars can generate a lot of power and create many coalitions that can solidify and sustain this movement.
“We can use our dollars to create organizations, trust funds, and leverage our vote,” he said. “We can create a bloc of non-party related voters who say that ‘We will vote for anybody if they are acting in our best interest.’”
Aside from the political capabilities buying Black has, it can create stronger close-knit communities where African Americans depend on each other to survive rather than White-dominated corporations and governmental entities.
“Ain’t nobody going to take care of us but us,” Watkins said. “We need to embrace that for our survival. There’s nothing more important in any community than to feed your children. We can’t allow other people to feed our kids; We have to feed them ourselves.”
Although the Buy Black movement has many positives, there are a lot of people who point out various negatives and stereotypes, such as location issues, product quality and distrust for their own people.
“We build up other people’s economy, but don’t do nothing for us,” Watkins expressed. “We buy other people’s products, but won’t buy nothing from us. No one will ever say, ‘I’m never going to a White business again because they took my money.’”
Furthermore, it can be noted that there are people who are aware of the movement’s power and exclaim that people should invest in Black businesses and help African Americans, yet they don’t put in the necessary footwork to make things better.
“It’s not enough to just be conscious,” Clingman said. “We want people who are conscientiously conscious, which is the drive and the willpower to do things a conscious person is called upon doing emotionally and psychologically.”
When you are buying Black this new year, however, remain cautious of who you are giving your dollars to. Geuka expressed that just because someone is a Black business owner doesn’t mean they will use their capital to empower the community.
“Everything black isn’t Black,” he said. “The very fact that someone is aware of the predicament that Black folks are in doesn’t, in itself, mean that they are committed to do anything about it. The purpose of our movement is to first identify those people who think and feel about Black folks and our needs and our future the way that we do. Then, we collaborate with those people in developing a mechanism that will have the capacity to take us to the next level.”
In addition, it is important that people understand what they can do to support the mission outside of just being a consumer. Watkins said more people need to become financially literate so they can pass down good money management skills to their children and improve Black wealth.
“The most important thing we can do, in this generation, is to train as many Black entrepreneurs as possible,” he asserted.
The self-proclaimed “People’s Scholar” also advises Black entrepreneurs, stating that it is important to understand the difference between action and planning, not being afraid of making a move, starting business from where they are currently and understanding the power of groups and being a collective.
The most important piece of information Watkins provided is that African Americans have to learn self-love as well loving one another, or no movement for the Black community will be able to survive.
“We have to practice loving ourselves and loving each other because if you really love someone, you’re going to support them,” he said.