I heard of a statistic some years ago (I don't remember where) that a dollar lasts an average of just a few hours in the black community, whereas a dollar lasts for a few days in a similar sized Asian community. The point is, black folks are consumers. We know how to spend but we don't know a heck of a lot about saving.
Now comes John and Maggie Anderson of Oak Park, Illinois and their "Ebony Experiment". As most of you know by now, the purpose of this couple's experiment is to buy black for one year. Buying black to them means only patronizing black owned businesses. This is not a simple thing for this couple as they have to drive as much as 14 miles just to buy their groceries.
"More than anything, this is a learning thing," said Maggie Anderson, who grew up in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami and holds a law degree and an MBA from the University of Chicago. "We know it's controversial, and we knew that coming in."
Maggie, I don't know why it's controversial, there is nothing controversial about wanting to support black businesses and helping to empower your people from an economic standpoint. According to economist Jim Clingman, $850 billion moves through our hands every year, and more than 90% of that money goes outside of the black community. Oh field, come on, this is reverse racism, if white folks said that they weren't supporting black businesses you would be the first one writing about racism. Well, not exactly, but I would be curious. Because I am quite sure that white people never even have to think about the type of businesses that they support. So yeah, if some white family in Topeka Kansas said that they were only going to support white businesses it wouldn't affect their lives one little bit. In fact, if a white family in Philly, Detroit, Boston, Los Angeles, Atlanta,.....[you get the point] said that they were only going to support white businesses we would all be saying; so what? Where is the sacrifice with that? And what exactly is the statement that they are trying to make? These poor people shouldn't be called racist and all types of ignorant things because they want to help make us black folks aware of our poor spending habits. Instead, they should be commended for raising awareness of how we spend our dollars and their willingness to make some sacrifices to do it.
Their actions have certainly made me reconsider just how much I am "down with brown" when it comes to my spending. My dentist, my lawyer and my family doctor is black, and so is my accountant. But I have to admit that I don't take a longer drive to West Philly or Germantown to support a black owned food market. And I sure as hell don't think about where I make my typical day to day consumer purchases. If I did, it would be easier for me, because I live in Philly and there are quite a few minority owned businesses, here. You black folks who live deep in suburbia or in a rural part of a red state might have a harder time being "down with brown" when it comes to your spending. So I would imagine that an experiment like this one would be that much harder for you.
Still, at least you can try your experiment on the low. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, by putting themselves out there, have no such luxury. Their lives are now open books, and they will be praised (as I am doing here) and vilified.
It's a shame, because this is an area where black folks really need to get a grip. What we really need a big ass group therapy session. Now if we can just find a black shrink to conduct it.