31 Days 31 Ways

We’ve prepared some helpful suggestions on how to observe National Black Business Month. As our official poster reads,

“The Most Important Thing We Can Do Right Now is What They Did Back Then—Support Black Business”.

 

31 Ways, 31 Days

Friday, Aug. 1  Invest in a black-managed public firm

Companies founded by black entrepreneurs like American Shared Hospital Services are traded on major national exchanges.  A list is found at blackmoney.com

Saturday, Aug. 2 Deposit in a black financial institution

For more than 150 years, black banks, insurers, savings and loans and now mutual funds and investment banks have raised the money for homes, college, businesses and churches, ,but there is a stigma among our own people. Yet it is the major Wall Street houses and multinational banks which perpetrated the subprime scourge on minorities.  Deposits in community banks give them the ability to help clean up the mess.

Sunday, Aug. 3  Buy grocery products by a black manufacter or in a black owned grocery.

From Glory Foods to Smokey Robinson, ask your grocery for the items which provide the distinct flair of black cuisine.

Monday, Aug. 4 Buy books from a black owned bookstore or from a black publisher.

Publishing is a field in which black entrepreneurship creates the innovation and creativity that competes with larger companies.  It does make a difference whether one buys a book from Third World Press or one of the majors.

Tuesday, Aug. 5 Donate to a civil rights group.

The NAACP and other groups fought for 60 years to achieve the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At that time, 80 percent of all blacks were laborers or domestic workers and the average black income was $3,000.   Now the $30 Billion Negro of 1968 has more than $700 billion in aggregate income.  What a return on investment.

Wednesday, Aug. 6 Support an historically-black college or university

An equally good investment has been the care that these institutions have placed into millions of blacks who have moved into the middle-class.  UNCF and the Thurgood Marshall Fund give easy ways to give something back.

Thursday, Aug. 7  Shop online with a black owned web site.

Choices like Black Planet, Black America Web, both owned by Radio One, AA Connection.com support employment opportunities in the cutting-edge technology field.  It is also represents a low-cost way to enter entrepreneurship.

Friday, Aug. 8  Eat at a black-owned restaurant

The more than 20,000 black eateries nationally are the visible face of black entrepreneurship and anchors for their communities.  The field is getting an infusion of new blood, often with experience in top-flight restaurants.

Saturday, Aug. 9  Buy from a black farmer or vintner

Reviving black agribusiness is essential in an age of sustainability. The embedded experience of remaining farmers needs to be transferred to a new generation.  Farmers markets like Mo’Betta in Oakland give youth the ability to see black farmers in the flesh.  The African-American Vintners Association has become wildly popular, causing many to seek viticulture as a second career.

Sunday, Aug. 10 Support a black church

The largest business in many black communities is the black church, not only in the size of its structures, but also by providing housing, and other services.  Contemporary churches are learning to channel the accumulated power of their memberships to generate savings for members. Even if not a member, find a way to support one of its activities.

Monday, Aug. 11 Call a black realtor

With the epidemic of foreclosures in our communities, realtors have the knowledge to either save homes or connect with willing buyers to prevent vacancies that destabilize whole neighborhoods.

Tuesday, Aug. 12 Contact a black doctor or dentist

Many of the health disparities start with a reluctance to seek medical help. Your local doctor, who can be found through their trade associations, can provide a welcoming face to guide you to wellness.

Wednesday, Aug. 13 Plan to visit a black hotel or casino

This is a real success story for black entrepreneurs. The number of such hotels has skyrocketed to several hundred, with one in most states.  NABHOOD has been a model of effectiveness by matching hotel chains with willing pioneers.

Thursday, Aug. 14 Get a quote from a black contractor.

This sector is under severe stress with the declining housing and commercial market. But there is still a need for ongoing repairs and improvements.  A priority for state and local governments can be to fund improvements in underserved communities like the $200 million boost in affordable housing just approved by New York state under the leadership of Gov. David Paterson.

Friday, Aug. 15 Shop at or join a cooperative

The cooperative model is a lesson that 21st century blacks can take from their 19th century forebears.The lack of access to capital still is a barrier which can be overcome by creating coops in apartments or communities for everything from groceries to day care to schools to energy.

Saturday, Aug. 16 See a play at a black theatre

Most of today’s mega-movie stars got their start in community theatres like the Negro Ensemble Company.  But most black actors still labor in these sites.

Sunday, Aug. 17 Visit an African-American museum or library

There are more than 100 black museums around the country.  A number of anniversaries dating from the civil rights era will create exciting events.  Becoming familiar can give parents the ability to push for infusion of their content in classrooms.

Monday, Aug. 18 Ask your city or business to contract with black firms. 

Encouraging the company to celebrate National Black Business Month by finding new contractors or holding a vendor fair can support job creation.

Tuesday, Aug. 19 Support your black radio station

Black talk radio is enjoying a renaissance due to the heated political season.  Owners like Los Angeles’ Stevie Wonder continue to maintain the traditional values of black radio.  It continues to be the most effective communications medium for black markets.

Wednesday, Aug. 20 Ask your cable company to air black channels

The Africa Channel just gained clearance in its home Los Angeles market.  A 24-hour black news channel seeks to go on the air in 2009. TV One is offering more family-oriented programming. Unless one puts a premium on the billions blacks spend on cable by insisting on more black channels, they will not be listed.

Thursday, Aug. 21 Watch or rent black produced movies

Spike Lee, John Singleton and hundreds of other filmmakers are going directly to consumers as well as approaching traditional channels.

Friday, Aug. 22 Buy music by black producers

Black artists are insisting on more control over their product.  Support the more entrepreneurial with your entertainment dollars.

Saturday, Aug. 23 Subscribe to black newspapers or magazine

Black consumers supported newspapers with circulation dollars at the beginning of the last century. More subscribers leads not only to higher advertising revenues,  but more editorial independence.

Sunday, Aug. 24 Attend a black conference or convention

Black tourism dollars are traditionally spent during the summer months when most national organizations and churches hold their gatherings.  It is also a good time for family reunions.

Monday, Aug. 25 Use a black caterer or event planner

This has become a popular second career for many who have perfected the art of a fine meal or party.

Tuesday, Aug. 26 Contribute to a black political candidate

For the record, we’ve been recommending this for 10 years, but it is certainly in vogue this year with the success of Sen. Barack Obama in raising more than $300 million. However, many other local and state candidates could use support. Like civil rights organizations, the payoff can be immense.

Wednesday, Aug. 27 Buy black memorabilia

Many old texts and photos from black households are on the market. To either keep them or to donate them to a favorite museum, it is important to acquire these cultural assets.  A prime example is the news that the possessions of Rosa Parks are being sold at auction including her Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Recently, many of Martin Luther King Jr.’s papers were also placed at auction.  But even church programs or posters for concerts draw prices of $100 in used bookstores, when they were originally given out for free.

Thursday, Aug. 28 Visit a black retailer

In a down economy, this sector can use all the support it can get, particularly during the back to school season.

Friday, Aug. 29 Buy fashion of black designers

African-Americans spend twice as much on clothes as the general market.  Distribution channels have made it difficult to buy black designers, but small retailers and the Internet provide alternatives.

Saturday, Aug. 30 Visit a black beauty or barber shop

There is nothing like the experience of visiting a barber or beauty shop.

Sunday, Aug. 31 Join a wholesale buying club/mutual aid society

The black tax costs African-American consumers an additional 20 to 40 percent on their purchases, not to mention predatory payday lenders, high credit cards and second mortgages.  Instead of spending higher prices for luxury goods, reduce expenses by buying as a club, using purchasing power to gain discounts. Every consumer needs to take an entrepreneurial approach to acquiring products and services.

The most important thing about these ideas and the many more that individuals will come up with is that they can be repeated all year round.  African-American consumers have it within their own power to close such gaps as the

  • Two to one unemployment disparity among African-Americans and whites
  • The high proportion of uninsured health consumers
  • The access to capital for black entrepreneurs

When we divert money going to liquor stores for unhealthy food and fast food restaurants which do not hire our young people into our own businesses, we gain renewed respect in the entire economy.

When the federal government tracks the investment and consumer choices of black consumers as a leading indicator, then we will know that National Black Business Month has really taken hold.

 

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