Black Lives Matter is affecting the world in a profound way, bringing the plight of African Americans into the limelight. Its effects are far-reaching, and it is occurring in tandem with the COVID-19 pandemic to make it even more difficult to run a successful business.
Below, we will outline the implications and demonstrate how to help Black-owned businesses out amidst the current situation,as a show of support and solidarity.
Black Lives Matter is alerting the USA to the social injustices of black people not only in a general sense. In academics, economics, business, finance, law, and practically all other spheres, black people are under-represented. It has started a revolution of sorts as protests take place across the USA for equality.
In terms of social class, the average total net worth of a white family was 10 times that of a black family in 2016. The main reason for this, however, is heralded as being a lack of inherited generational wealth as opposed to systemic racism. Almost 20% of Black families have debt that exceeds their assets, due to a combination of a lack of financial education and a lack of generational wealth.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (‘NAACP’) is the most prominent organisation in terms of education, financial empowerment, and social equality for Black citizens. Their 2016 Black Lives Matter pamphlet included 11 tips to help Black children become more financially aware, how to increase Black ownership of franchises, and how to promote entrepreneurial leadership within Black communities.
The Black Lives Matter movement has been going on for some time. It was actually founded in July 2013 to protest police brutality against African Americans. However, it has now reached a global level with the recently recorded death of George Floyd in Minnesota at the hands of a white police officer. This most recent event has led to mass protests across the USA with riots and looting in response.
There is little question that the unfortunate history of black people in America is what has led to the current inequality. The primary reason for the lack of Black wealth and their under-representation in business is due to the treatment of previous generations. This has led to an infrastructure where other demographics benefit from inherited wealth, go to the best schools, and get the best jobs. In contrast, black people do not have any of these benefits in terms of wealth acquisition and are starting off on a much weaker platform to grow their income potential.
This is not a controversial point and is well-grounded in history and reputable reports. In the 1850s, New York actually destroyed a Black-owned village to create Central Park. Black business owners were commonly lynched throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. After the second world war, Black veterans were excluded from many benefits in terms of homeownership, benefits promised to other groups.
‘If you pay attention to the literal campaign of terror against black Americans in this country, what you’ll see is a lot of it was carried out against black business owners or anyone who was perceived as accumulating wealth.’ Khadijah Robinson, ‘The Nile List’ Founder
Needless to say, the issue is a mix of historical prejudice and current inequalities. Regardless, it needs to be remedied, and you can do this if you lend your support to Black-owned businesses. Any group that is a victim of inequality will ultimately hurt the entire nation.
Fortunately, there are many ways to demonstrate support and build a better nation with small but impactful actions.
How to Support Black-Owned Businesses
There are various ways that you can help black-owned businesses to survive COVID and to show your support for the current Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the USA. A primary way to help is to divert your spending towards Black-owned businesses. But this is by no means the only way to ensure social solidarity amongst US citizens, and there are many paths forward. Some of these mechanisms are outlined below.
Social media remains one of the best ways to make a positive impact on Black business owners. After all, it’s free. Make your voice heard, follow leaders that you trust within this movement, and follow Black-owned businesses on Twitter and Facebook. Get your friends involved and cite some studies and statistics on the subject matter to generate awareness. Social media is probably one of the most powerful tools at your disposal to assist.
This is not merely a fad. Black-owned businesses have received an upsurge in sales amid the protests, and this has largely been attributed to social media awareness generation campaigns. This is in spite of the fact that Black-owned businesses have been the hardest hit as a result of the COVID downturn. The outcry among the public is turning to actual sales for Black business owners, and this is but one example of how Black people are being empowered due to a tangible movement that aims to assist a unique demographic group.
By simply understanding the obstacles that Black business owners face and the history of black people in America, you will be doing a lot to assist. It will help you to explain it to others and to see why this is an underprivileged group that needs support and attention at the current time. It always helps to stay informed and to know the figures.
For example, while corporations are saying they are going to address concerns, they tend to have a poor track record.
And in a survey of Black economists carried out by the American Economic Association, only 14% agreed with the statement that “people of my race/ethnicity are respected within the field.” The more you know about any particular issue, the better you can respond to it and ultimately resolve it. Without being made aware of such issues, the problems will not be addressed. As a consumer and a citizen, you have the financial and social power to help out disempowered groups, and this particular group is clearly disempowered.
Try to shop with Black-owned businesses in your local area to give them some financial support amidst the disaster. It’s important to make a distinction here. You are not ‘anti-white’ – you are ‘pro-black’. There is a huge difference between attacking one group and empowering another.
In terms of racial discrimination, it is typically a tiny percentage of any one group that is causing all of the difficulties. So make purchases at Black stores, but don’t feel you need to ‘boycott’ white stores.
There is even a 30-day ‘Buy Black Challenge’ campaign that is getting started. This started on June 19th and will help you find Black stores and make a positive impact by highlighting the benefits of these stores and making a financial contribution. Each day, businesses in different industries are highlighted. The idea is to start a trend so that more and more people will buy Black, year-round.
With the Black Lives Matter Movement sweeping the world, there are tonnes of petitions, movements, and organisations that you can join to better the lives of black people in the USA. You might even consider being a group leader, attending a peaceful protest/event, or setting up your own petition. Needless to say, you will be making a peaceful protest. Riots never solved anything, and they never will.
If you feel strongly about the matter, be intelligent with your words, your money, and your voice. Don’t just end up in jail or destroy someones else’s business because you are not in control of your emotions. In order to be actively involved, it definitely helps to understand what is going on and do your research (as mentioned in a previous point).
Many Black-owned businesses have been hit very hard with the recent COVID crisis and have also been victims of looting during the protests. You can make a direct financial contribution to help out. It does not have to be a huge sum of money, and every little helps. The alternative to this, as mentioned above, is to make purchases at Black-owned stores. Many initiatives are in place for you to find and fund local and national Black-owned businesses.
Learn more here.