This is How Black Owned Businesses Will Shape Our Future
Black Ownership Is Key to Reclaiming Our History and Laying the Foundation For the Future
It’s not news to the world that black people keep America and arguably the world afloat. Our language, cuisine, music, fashion, and beauty are global commodities. The irony is that we make the least profit from it. Visit any country where the African Diaspora inhabits, and we are the poorest in the land. 56% of Brazil are black, 75% earn the lowest income, and 64% are unemployed. Africa is the most abundant place in the world but still lands in the number one spot as the world's poorest continent. Black Americans comprise 13.4% of America and are the second most impoverished demographic.
Supporting black businesses is more than propaganda; it is about survival and shifting the paradigm of 400 years of oppression, so generational wealth is an option for our descendants. The dollar stays in the community for 6 hours compared to 20 days for the Jewish. We’ve been conditioned to invest our coins in other spaces, but movements like August Black Business Month remind the black community the importance of generating wealth.
What You Should Know About August Black Business Month
While spending money with black businesses should be a lifestyle, August is Black Business Month and is a great time to form a habit we’ve been conditioned out of. In 2004 historian Jordan William Templeton and engineer Frederick E. Jordan Sr. founded Black Business Month to eradicate the inequalities of black entrepreneurs after dealing with their own start-up challenges. Dedicating a month to highlight and support black owners can make all the difference in a new or existing business.
When we take a closer look at the history of black entrepreneurship, we can identify how critical it is to discipline ourselves in supporting one another. The stigma that black businesses are inferior or of lower quality is an illusion formed by oppressors—a strategic divide that doesn’t take much theory to realize.
Examining The History of Black Businesses and The Golden Age
Segregation forced black people to not only start their businesses but also to exclusively shop black-owned. During the Jim Crow era, African Americans were not allowed at white schools, grocery stores, shopping malls, beauty salons, nightclubs, etc., forcing us to keep our dollar circulating within the community and marked the start of The Golden Age. If it weren’t for the Golden era, we wouldn’t have had our first black woman millionaire, Madam CJ Walker.
Madam CJ Walker ushered in a new standard for beauty and business. As a double minority, she defied multiple odds at the turn of the 20th century. In 1906 she released her hair care system, “The Walker Method,” and sold her products door-to-door in the south. Madam CJ Walker became the first woman millionaire and wasted no time investing back into the community. She started a school teaching young African American women about the beauty industry and how to be successful in sales. Walker also donated to multiple black causes, including the NAACP, The Black YMCA, and funded countless scholarships. And while she may have been the first black millionaire, there were not too many far behind her in the Greenwood District, also known as Black Wall Street.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, was home to the most affluent black quarters in the United States. And in 1921, white rioters destroyed the community. Businesses went up in flames, killing over 300 black citizens and injuring 800. It is one of the largest racial massacres to date, and we haven’t seen another black district like it. Fast forward decades later, integration from an economic standpoint derailed any progress, and today, we are still recovering from the centuries of economic oppression and tragedy.
In 2020 African Americans took another massive hit. The pandemic effected black businesses more than any other minority group. According to Forbes Advisor, between February and April 2020, black business ownership declined by 40%---an alarming statistic considering 69% of black entrepreneurs rely on their businesses as their primary source of income. 2020, highlighted the false sense of economic security America has. However due to power and financial literacy, the rich only got richer.
Madam CJ Walker Walked So Black Entrepreneurs Today Could Run
Madam CJ Walker paved the way for black and women beauty entrepreneurs—cementing her name as a self-made millionaire and philanthropist. Her legacy rings volumes through American history. Thanks to her, today we have successful cosmetic brands like Fenty, founded by mega star Rihanna, currently the youngest billionaire in the United States—a big win for black women and immigrants. Founder of Mielle Organics, Monique Rodriguez, accumulated over $100 million in sales with a profit of $14 million, according to Afrotech. And while we’ve come a long way since “The Walker Method,” white conglomerates are still getting their slice of the pie.
LVMH owns 50% of Fenty, with a net worth of $2.8 billion. Monique maintains majority ownership of Mielle Organics with her husband Melvin, but they also have multiple investors with over $1 million in capital funding. These are incredible milestones for black women in beauty, after all it's better to own a percentage of a profitable asset than to own 100% of a liability. But what does it look like for the black community when we put our $1.6 trillion spending power back into our businesses? Imagine the impact we could have. We can own investment banks, brokerages, universities, hospitals, etc. Black wealth is central to improving the community’s educational system, housing, health care access and enhancing our mental and physical wellness.
Key Ways To Support Small Black Owned Businesses
During Black Business Month and beyond, be strategic about supporting black entrepreneurs. Consider items, beverages, or foods you often purchase and replace them with black-owned brands. You can also support small businesses by sharing on your social media platforms, commenting, and engaging with content to help further their reach. If you don’t know where to start, we’ve curated a list of black-owned businesses to support:
- Bellavana Beauty, Body Care
Aaliyah Bella Rose founded Bellavana Beauty after her struggle to find intentional, plant - based and non - toxic body care products for dry, eczema - prone skin that focused on healthy skin.
Founded by two sisters, McBride Sisters Wine is the most prominent Black Owned Wine Company in the United States.
- Black Girl Sunscreen, Suncare
Shontay Lundy founded Black Girl Sunscreen in 2016 with melanin - rich women in mind, creating a formula that doesn’t leave a white caste.
- Puzzle Huddle, Kid's Toys
Frustrated with the lack of diversity in commercially produced puzzles, Matthew Goins and his wife worked together to launch a line of diversity-focused puzzles.
- Clean Design Home, Home & Linen
Robin Wilson founded Clean Design Home as a leader in allergy and asthma-conscious linen and home goods.
- Blesseth Ova, Feminine Care
Jessica founded Blesseth Ova to create biodegradable, plant - based and toxin - free menstruation products for women to have a healthier, safer period.
- Mischo, Nail Polish
Kitiya created a line of 10 Free nail lacquers after her struggle to find nail products that she could use while pregnant with her son.
- TGIN, Hair Care
Chris - Tia created TGIN after becoming frustrated by the lack of products for textured hair so she could feel confident in her natural curls.
- Range Beauty, Foundation Makeup
Alicia created Range Beauty when she realized how few inclusive foundation shades there were and that helped with sensitive skin.
- Balanced Black Girl, Mental Health Podcast
After starting her own wellness journey, Les created the Balanced Black Girl Podcast to encourage conversation around mindfulness and wellness.
- FORVR Mood, Candles
Jackie Aina spearheaded FORVR Mood to give black women products to live a life deserving of self - care and luxury.
- Creamalicious, Ice Cream
Chef Liz founded Creamalicious, one of the only African - American owned national ice cream brands in mass production, to celebrate her roots & community.
- Rebundle, Hair Extensions
Ciara and Danielle co - founded Rebundle to provide a solution to the waste issue found in the synthetic hair industry with their recyclable & sustainable hair extensions.
- Hyper Skin, Skincare
Desiree created Hyper Skin out of her need for acne products for brown skin like hers, that actually worked.
Times are changing, and more resources are available for the black community than ever before, but we’re grading on a curve. More resources today than decades ago doesn’t mean equal. We’ve been playing catch-up for centuries, and it's time we close the gap. If you’re not already, get intentional about investing in black owned businesses this August and then never stop doing it.
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