It is no secret that the gap between rich and poor appears to be growing in America. According to a recent blog post from the London School of Economics, the wealthiest one percent went from owning less than 10 percent of the total wealth in 1970 to owning more than 20 percent of the wealth by the end of 2012. Moreover, wealth inequality has also widened across racial lines. In 2014, the median net worth of white families was $141,900 which dwarfed the median net worth of black families and Hispanic families which were $11,000 and $13,700, respectively.
In a country where political power is often associated with economic power, these dire statistics do not bode well with respect to ending police harassment, police brutality and the prison industrial complex that is ravaging poorer communities and communities of color. The book, Our Black Year, by Maggie Anderson [youtube url=”video_url” width=”500″ height=”300″] explains that a dollar circulates in the black community for only 6 hours, which compares very negatively to circulation rates of 30 days, 20 days, and 17 days in Asian-American, Jewish and Anglo Saxon communities. The poverty and political disenfranchisement in African American communities is not necessarily caused by the inability to generate wealth, it is caused by the inability to retain and circulate wealth. I’m sure that the same can be said of certain poorer communities of other hues. The one percent has all the wealth because we collectively give our wealth to the one percent. We can spread our wealth by spreading our wealth to smaller businesses.
Yes, you will need clothes, shoes, body products, and other items, so why not purchase those items from a small business owner who genuinely needs your economic support and whose practices are relatively transparent as opposed to a larger retailer who may in fact be promoting or benefiting from the very harsh police practices that you oppose. That large company could be lobbying in unsavory ways and may be benefiting from cheap prison labor. Supporting small businesses is not easy or convenient in many instances because many small businesses do not have the financial capital, human capital or technology that large businesses possess. Trust me, as the co-owner of Joojos, an artisanal children’s shoe company, and Milestales, an independent publisher and education consulting firm, I understand how challenging it can be it is to attract customers and clients and provide competitive goods and services with a limited budget.
However, that inconvenience is a small sacrifice for freedom. No one is spitting at you or sicing a dog on you. You are not walking or car-pooling for 381 days as they did during the Montgomery boycott. Supporting small and or black owned businesses when you can is a relatively small sacrifice and the act of shopping small allows you to build mutually beneficial relationships with the entrepreneurs that you support. Go to small businesses in your neighborhood instead of driving to the mall. You also can find small or black-owned businesses by using the Around the Way App or purchaseblack.com.
Please also go to my blog http://purchasinglove.wordpress.com and subscribe for a info and a directory of small or black owned businesses that service a national audience. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are a small business owner of any color who would like to be featured.