There is much debate over whether a black owner should disclose that they own a business when they are black. Some people would contend that business is the one place that is not prejudice. Those people would say that if you provide a great product or service, you will attract diverse customers. I beg to differ. There are 3 main things that are difficult for any budding black business owner to get:
- Adequate funding
- Diverse high-skilled workers
- Diverse high-paying customers
These 3 aren’t just from people outside of the black community either. Even high-skilled black workers tend to lean towards corporate or governmental jobs, resisting the desire to sell their labor to small businesses. Make it a black-owned small business and those chances lessen.
Here’s my assertion, however. I understand. Hiding ourselves is a double-edged sword. On one hand, when we don’t hide, we can prevent people who prefer not to support black-owned business (oftentimes due do stereotypes) from supporting us, helping them gain a new perspective and earning that sale. On the other hand, when we hide ourselves, we don’t help non-black customers with diversity and help break stereotypes.
Black people pop out the womb living in a diverse world. We have no choice but to patronize non-black businesses or we can live forfeiting some of life’s luxuries. So we grow up expecting to do so. But not whites in certain parts of this country and world. They are often oblivious to the simple point of who they have to hand their money to. They can go their whole lives never giving money to a black business and not live a diminished life.
The point I am making is we are in the last stage of the civil rights movement (economics) and we can’t get exhausted now. We shouldn’t expect massive success as black business owners at this stage or we can bring subconscious frustrating and misery into our lives. We have to know that we are continuing to build a better life for our children. However, when we don’t start businesses and focus on economic awareness, we extend discrimination to the next generation.
In other words, the good black entrepreneurs out there must work to help non-blacks become comfortable patronizing blacks by running superior establishments and from using our images in marketing material, to us helping them with the sale of the goods/services.
Hiding who we are is equivalent to being ashamed and feeding into the prejudice of other people. My mother always said to me growing up, “If you have to hide, then you are doing something wrong.” Are black entrepreneurs doing something wrong? Do we belong to a hate group? Do we belong to a terrorist organization? Are we running illegal operations? Do we feel it’s wrong to bring ourselves onto a level playing field?
I know it’s tough to do business as a black person. I truly do. We get difficulty from both sides; our people and other people. But we have to be pioneers. We have to be the change agents. We have to be those people that prove society wrong about the quality of our goods and the level of our services. We have to be proud to be black just as much as being proud to be an American, a parent, a fraternity/sorority member, an alum… we have to be proud. I wouldn’t say be boastful or obnoxious. Proud will do. And if you continue to do your best behind the counter of your business, eventually the community will do you too.