Challenge yourself to change and effect change within your community.
A few weeks ago I woke up and had a moment of thought. I wondered why I was still here. I am a survivor. I am an African-American, Black person. I am free thinking and equally free speaking but what am I doing with my life beyond myself? I have thoughts every person has when they start to wonder about their existence. With all the unrest of recent police brutality and murder of black men and people in general, I started to think about how I spend my time. What support do I lend to my community? What change can I effect by myself? Am I meant to just exist? I go to work, I take care of my home, I pay bills, I support my family and I have wonderful friends. Is this enough?
I went to integrated elementary, middle and high schools. I was a member of an integrated church congregation. When I was younger, being one of the few or only black people in a setting, I was sometimes made aware or felt my difference. I believe I have found some good people in my lifetime whether they are green, blue, purple, white or black. I have never lost sight of the tremendous burden that falls on me to strive to be better, speak better, “act” better and appear better in order to fit within what society dictates. However, I have held true to who I am and have never been anyone other than me.
After college, I moved and lived in a small southern town where I was thrust into the reality that I am Black. Not that I didn’t realize it before, but I went to a “Black” college where everyone looked like me, most of the time. I went by choice because I certainly had options of other schools. I was so immersed in the culture and the safety of campus that I hadn’t recently had the in-your-face reality of a world that didn’t allow me to freely be myself because of the mere appearance of my beautiful chocolate caramel colored skin. I am proud of who I am. I am proud to be a part of a strong and gorgeous race of people. It is a shame that this lineage was tainted by racism and slavery. We can’t get around it, brush it under the rug or ignore that it happened or exists. I think we just have moments where our environment is so comfortable that we momentarily forget that it is buried and not dead. That racism is a bad mother-shut-yo-mouth. It has fallen into the category of a weed and not a corpse. A corpse stays dead and buried, a weed keeps coming back. With a weed, you can put weed killer on it, you can pull it up but weeds still exist. With all of the pesticides produced to date, weeds have never been completely eradicated, much like racism.
I recently heard a statistic about the buying power of the black dollar, along with statistics of unemployment, crime, economic woes and so on. Then I wondered about black businesses. With all that buying power, why aren’t there more successful black businesses? I am not blind to the fact that there are varying reasons why there may not be more successful small businesses in general. So that brings me to this project. #myblackdollarscount First, let me say I am not against any business. Everyone has the right to be an entrepreneur and make money, thus, the secondary meaning of “black” dollars. To be in the black in business is a good thing. I am not against white people but I am not white, I am Black. That is the only perspective I have. I have met and broken bread with some good people, operative word – people, in my life. I have friends and family from all cultures and races. There are always extremes in every case and race. I have now seen both sides. For my white folks, I want you to understand, when you go out into the market place I want you to ask yourself how many Black owned businesses do I patronize faithfully, why or why not? Is it that they don’t exist? Did you have a bad experience? Are they not where you live and shop? Or do you have black owned businesses that you support? Everyone ask these questions of yourself. Where did I buy my car? Where do I get my gas? Where did I purchase meats and vegetables? What restaurants did I eat in? Who serviced my car? What non-profit organization did I support? Where did I get hair, make-up and beauty products? Where did I play golf? Where did I take my kids to play, that was not a park? Where was my child’s birthday party held? Where do I bank? Who built my home by that I mean the developer and the builder? Who services my appliances? Where did I buy home improvement supplies? Who did my nails or massage? Where is the gym where I work out? Where do I purchase my clothes and shoes? Who is my doctor? Where is my pharmacy? Where is the bookstore? Now the biggest question, who owns all of those places? I will wait. That is just 20 questions. You can create your own statistic just from the answers to those questions. I am not talking about your salesman or worker or waiter or teller or attendant. I am talking about the owner and by owner I don’t just mean of a franchise. So, please understand, I am just pointing out that white people don’t have the same issues as other minority races when it comes to big business or small business ownership. It is not a foremost thought. It is not an issue of why there aren’t more successful businesses within that community. Why is that?
So that is the challenge of this project for me. It is born out of curiosity. #myblackdollarscount is about seeing how many of my dollars I can shift to support the small businesses within our community. I am looking forward to meeting business owners and workers wherever I may find myself. Along the way, I will be writing reviews, visiting and patronizing as many businesses as I can. Not because I have anything against anyone but because I am Black. I am African-American. I am brown, caramel and sun-kissed. And because I woke up one day and wondered if the dollars in my household could make a difference in my community. The journey and challenge begin…. I invite you, whoever you are, to take the journey with me in your respective communities and places of residence. Hash-tag #myblackdollarscount and hash-tag the city of the business.
www.myblackdollarscount.com follows a journey and challenge to locate, support and review local black businesses and why there may not be more of them (or maybe there is alot of them). Join the challenge, whoever you may be, wherever you are. Like us on facebook at