Tag: black economics

Minister Louis Farrakhan delivers a speech Friday, March 25, 2011 at Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., as part of the 6th Annual Conference of the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. Farrakhan, who leads the Chicago-based Nation of Islam delivered a speech on the need of a new grassroots movement for a change in education. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The next time I hear a black person give “reasons” as to why they find it difficult to support black entrepreneurs, I might stab them. The issue is not the quality of the businesses so much as how we unconsciously view them through an anti-black lens; yes, we as black people see the world through such a lens often. When I’m on the subway and a noisy crowd of white teenagers board, I roll my eyes. But when a crowd of noisy black teenagers board I cringe, get angry and urgently want them gone. My harsh reaction to the black teenagers reveals that I, on some level, wear anti-black goggles when viewing the world. Those goggles are hurting our entrepreneurs and ultimately, black power.

A classmate from undergrad tagged me in an Instagram post that asked people to identify reasons why black businesses fail. The IG post had over 30,000 likes and a slew of comments, most of which were laughable. Repeatedly, people cited “bad customer service,” operators who are “rude” or have “bad attitudes” and of course, “high prices.” These are the things we say when we have our goggles on. The irony is I read those comments minutes after reading that Wells Fargo found an additional 1.4 million fake accounts its employees opened without the consent of customers, adding to the initial 2.1 million phony accounts found last year. Yes, Wells Fargo literally stole from millions of their customers but they are the white teenagers on the train.

Overwhelmingly the post comments came from black people who most likely grew up and still live in black neighborhoods (regardless of income blacks still tend to live in segregated neighborhoods). There’s no way poor customer service prohibits them for they have always lived in neighborhoods filled with stores run by foreigners, whom they routinely condemn for their lack of customer service…but still support. At times there are language barriers that complicate the shopping experience. More disturbing, there is often an overt message that while your money is desired, your presence is not. That communication is so prevalent that is was portrayed in Menace to Society and later parodied by the Wayans in the infamous “hurry up and buy” scene from Don’t Be a Menace. The Wayans made light of a hostile dynamic that can even be fatal. Such was the case when Korean convenience store owner Soon Ja Du fatally shot Latasha Harlins in the back of her head as she attempted to leave the store, just 13 days after the Rodney King beating. Du received probation for the killing and no jail time. Harlins was 15.

Let’s assume black entrepreneurs are as rude and poor in customer service as some allege. There still must be a case for why we spend money with other entrepreneurs. As black people we are accustomed to shopping in stores not owned by black people, even in our own neighborhoods. While few of these interactions are as bad as the one between Harlins and Du, how often do we encounter amazing customer service in these establishments? I’ll wait. Whether it’s the local gas station, corner store or the Wal Mart in your hood, please show me all this amazing customer service we are accustomed to receiving and in turn demand before we can stomach patronizing an establishment. Again, I’ll wait while we collectively adjust our goggles.

Let us also assume that black entrepreneurs charge substantially more for similar products and services. Once again, there still must be an argument made for those whom we patronize. The Consumer Federation of America found that the five largest insurers quoted premiums 70 percent higher for predominantly black communities. The average premium for upper middle income, predominantly black communities was 194 percent higher than similar white communities. Black consumers face the same challenges when buying cars and homes — we routinely are charged, after controlling for credit score and income, a hefty “black tax.” Beyond that we all know the day to day markups we face in black neighborhoods. There are the crazy markups on toilet paper at the corner store, the subtle difference in pricing at grocery stores in our neighborhoods versus others and on it goes. As a child I was often told these markups were justified due to “increased security costs” for operators in my neighborhood.

For those who cite pricing as a deterrent to buying black, it stands to reason that they would avoid most other businesses located in or marketing to black communities, based on the facts. But they don’t. It must be the goggles. It must be that we often see the world through a distorted lens that makes all things black unworthy. Indeed, we often pay a premium for products based on the brand while we dismiss goods handcrafted, with love, by black entrepreneurs without even testing them to see whether the quality merits the price. Contrary to what we believe, all these “reasons” come not from objective analyses. Just as I have a distorted view of those black teenagers on the subway, we have a flawed view of our entrepreneurs. It’s time to take off the goggles and see them and all others as they truly are.

 

lips

I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. Why? I’m a good guy and as such, V-Day only serves to mitigate my actions the other 364 days of the year. If I’m good to a woman all year but fail to produce on this day, I’m discounted. On the other hand, if I treat a woman subpar all year but produce this one day, I get points. Valentine’s Day is set up perfectly for even the sorriest man to score points…but even this day can’t help an unemployed man. If a man–even a good man–doesn’t have a check, the woman he desires won’t be the envy of her coworkers on the 14th. For an unemployed man, Valentine’s Day is a lost opportunity. HopewellThought is committed to attacking black unemployment this year and this month it starts with your mouth.

Last month I laid out our 2017 strategy toward ending black unemployment. If you haven’t, I’d strongly encourage you to read that first before continuing this journey. We can make significant strides simply by identifying one product or service each month we already use, then begin using a black owned company to fill that need going forward. Now back to this. I’m single but it doesn’t mean that I don’t keep my mouth ready. I’ve been told that I keep Listerine in business. For years I’ve used their mouthwash. Listerine breath strips have been in my pocket since they hit the market. I even use their dental floss. I. Stay. Ready. That said, the idea of using a different mouthwash never crossed my mind. That changed when I came across a black owned company, Garner’s Garden, that produces a 100% all natural mouthwash; a company actively looking to expand and hire black people. Still, I’ve been a Listerine guy forever and change is difficult. After all, Valentine’s Day is approaching and my mouth needs to be ready, just in case! I decided to reach out to the owner.

I purchased my bottle of mouthwash and gave it a try. As the owner explained, this product is not simply designed to cover up mouthwashbad breath but to actually heal your mouth. That sounded good. I want my mouth to be ready, after all. It contains healing oxygen particles that attack a host of dental issues such as cavities, gingivitis and gum disease. Not only is it antibacterial but it is also antiviral, anti-fungal and it whitens teeth naturally. I found every bit of that to be true. I felt my mouth getting healthier when I started using it. It burned like hell the very first time I tried it; that’s because it was healing everything my Listerine did not. It no longer burns now, my mouth feels healthy. I’ve also noticed that I no longer have that “Enter the Dragon” morning breath! I’m sold.

The company also sells a “remineralizing tooth powder,” which they recommend using in tandem with the mouthwash. In all honesty, I was most skeptical of this part of the deal. After all, I’m accustomed to toothpaste. In my research, however, I discovered that every toothpaste on the market is made up of a tooth-powder-4ozbunch of poisons. The tooth powder is a natural product that literally pulls toxins from your mouth and naturally whitens teeth. I’m getting used to it and I like the results thus far. As a consumer, I appreciate the fact that the mouthwash and tooth powder are getting my mouth ready for Valentine’s Day (just in case), naturally. Most of all, I love that my purchases are going toward providing jobs in my community.

You can purchase the mouthwash here and get a 10% discount this month when you use the code “HopewellThought.” If you’d really like to make sure your mouth is ready for Valentine’s Day and save even more, buy the mouthwash and tooth powder together here. You’ll receive 15% off when you purchase the two products together, using the code “HopewellThought2.”

Valentine’s Day is no picnic for an unemployed man, nor is any other day. We have the power to begin creating jobs in our community now, simply by getting our mouths ready.

**Be sure to also purchase our featured products from each prior month**

January–True Laundry Detergent