Black Wall Streets across America flourished before integration but they quickly disappeared. Black business has taken on new significance to millennials but like Black Wall Streets of old, it could all vanish in our lifetime. Covid-19 is quite literally threatening the survival of Black owned businesses. Apple began 2020 with over $200 billion in cash; Apple will easily weather this storm. Small businesses and Black owned businesses, especially, live week to week. Without decisive action from Black consumers, many will disappear forever.
If there is a Black owned business still open in your area that has anything you need, go there. It doesn’t matter if there is a store slightly closer, go to the Black owned store. If there is a Black restaurant still taking orders, place one and do it as often as you can. Some businesses have been forced to shut their doors and will only survive through fundraisers and the like– give to those fundraisers, even if it’s just $1. This is bigger than the current shutdown or your personal convenience: the future of Black people in America will be decided now by our collective actions. If Black children are to have any legacy or foundation in business, it will be because Black people sacrificed to save their businesses, today.
Starting over is hard. After emancipation, newly freed slaves sought to build a life of freedom but did so without the benefit of capital or very often, land. There were no Black owned financial institutions or legacy companies. Yes, Black people still overcame but not without great difficulty. In 2020, do we want the next generation of Black children to start from zero, once again? There are few Black financial institutions but some do exist. There aren’t Black owned coffee shops on every corner but you can find one, here and there. What Black people do have is more than zero and at all costs, it must be preserved. It must remain so that it can be strengthened and built upon, for generations to come. This is a moment of crisis for sure but not a moment of zero: we should keep it that way.
There is no guarantee that Black owned businesses will exist after this pandemic subsides. It will take radical and decisive action by Black people to secure the future of Black business in America. It is up to Black people, collectively, to spend every dime possible with Black companies and yes, contribute to fundraising efforts. If Black businesses fail, the only players left will be the big corporations and based on the history, the welfare of Black communities simply isn’t a top priority.