People that have been marginalized for centuries cannot be expected to thrive like other businesses of color or white-owned establishments. If a Black-owned business is “afforded” the proper resources to get started on the right foot, it is usually not equal, and if it was, many more black-owned businesses would be in a better position to recover if another pandemic or protest over injustice were to occur.
Although all ethnically-diverse businesses are affected during this time, I want to address the disparities that exist in the state of Wisconsin when it comes to Black-owned businesses. Wisconsin currently holds first place as the worst place to start a business for Black people. Where is the gap? Here’s my honest opinion.
Other ethnicities identified as Brown have been able to start and have thriving business communities across the state. These ethnic-owned businesses have strategically used allies, built economic power and created a whole tool-kit that is tailored and respective to their cultures and the way they do business.
All of this has been done in an effort to ensure that they are able to serve their communities, which means they can “protect” their communities, to some degree, from devastating economic downfalls. These businesses are the investment and change they want to see for their future generations.
Why hasn’t Milwaukee’s Black-owned businesses been able to do this? The reasons are varied, but to sum it up quickly there is a systematic problem in the business support infrastructure tailored to ethnically diverse business owners and that must be addressed.
Quick fact: non-Black ethnicities recycle their dollars within their communities at least eight times over. The Black dollar only recycles 0.008% but they round it to 1X for that rate to count. For a race of people that spend almost $4 trillion dollars per year in the economic system, it is astounding that less than 1% of that money is circulating back into the Black community.
Milwaukee residents, I urge you to put your money where your intention is. If you want to ensure that Black-owned businesses survive in this community, we need you to spend dollars with them at a similar rate that you spend with other businesses.
I also believe that Black-owned businesses need to connect with its chambers of commerce and other organizations targeted to support them so that we can effectively do so.
My colleagues and I have spent a good bulk of time listening to black business owners tell us the woes of attempting to secure the proper resources to start or sustain their businesses. I am personally vowing to work more strategically with other African-American chambers of commerce and organizations in this state to create an agenda around specific issues for Black-owned businesses.
We need to get this right. Although the viruses of COVID-19 and racism are ugly, it also presents a huge opportunity to reflect, reform and rebuild a system to get Black businesses in the position of thriving, not just surviving.
(Article was first published here.)