There is much talk about wealth or rather the lack thereof in the Black community. The racial wealth gap between Blacks and Whites in the United States has been the topic of many discussions both formal and informal. The conversations have especially focused on how to remedy the wealth gap. Many solutions have been proposed including some form of wealth transfer. There’s a big problem with that solution and it’s not where the money is coming from. It’s where the money is going.
While wealth is an issue in the Black community income is not. The income of Black America is over one trillion dollars which is more than most countries in the world. Of course income and wealth are two different things. Black America has money but that money does very little to build wealth. The reason is that there isn’t an infrastructure in place to capture Black dollars.
In other communities in America a dollar will circulate for several days before it leaves the community. In the Black community the dollar will circulate for fifteen minutes. Too often that dollar goes to a check cashing place or a liquor store that is not owned by a Black person. Even in more affluent Black communities the dollar still goes to a high end grocery store or chain restaurant.
We have an interesting thing in Black America. Statistics show we are starting businesses faster than any other group. The problem is that these businesses are not the type of businesses that capture Black money in the neighborhood. With the notable exception of Barber Shops and Hair Salons most of the businesses are service orientated or are strictly online. To be clear these businesses brings in money and empowers the owners but they don’t necessarily circulate Black dollars.
In any Black neighborhood there are certain core businesses that are needed in order to truly capture Black dollars. The primary business needed is a grocery store. The first place a person from any community will spend their money is the grocery store. Everybody eats. Everybody needs toilet tissue. Everybody needs soap. The fact that there are literally a handful of Black-owned grocery stores across the country is a travesty. A Black owned grocery store not only empowers the store owners and the community but provides an outlet for Black owned goods.
Speaking of food we need more Black-owned restaurants. If one were to examine the primary businesses of different Ethnic groups when they come to America one will see a lot of restaurants. Other groups bring their food with them. Now we have some Black-owned restaurants in Black America but not nearly enough. If we want to capture Black dollars we need every type of food establishment from a corner dive to a five-star restaurant. Once again this is where people will spend their money.
Another core business could be a mid-size clothing store. People buy three primary things with their money. They secure a place to live. They buy food. They buy clothing. To our credit there are many Black designers who open up small shops. We need more. There are so many types of everyday shops that need to be Black-owned in the community. There is one issue that needs to be addressed before these core businesses can really be developed.
Too many Black people are looking at the professions as a way to make money. Many people who have the talent to open the core businesses we need would rather work in a corporate environment. Of course we need people there but if as a community we really want wealth we need to be as encouraging to the people who want to open up shops.
We have to get to work on an infrastructure.