Editor's Pick

The “Buy Black” Movement: Divisive or a Boon to Black Entrepreneurs?

The Buy Black movement has triggered a series of intense debates in the black community and the wider America. Activists proposed this project as an opportunity to generate wealth for black Americans by supporting black entrepreneurs. On the downside, others say that this agenda perpetuates an insidious form of tribalism. Are criticisms of the Buy Black movement an accurate description of its goals?

Sociologists argue that minority groups often pursue ethnic entrepreneurship as a lever for social mobility. Throughout history, talented minorities have cultivated niche markets to acquire wealth and status. Venturing into unknown terrains was once a proven strategy for minorities to escape discrimination and to thrive. The emergence of such business districts enabled minority-owned establishments to flourish.

Jewish creators, for example, transitioned into the movie business because they were precluded from employment in other elite entertainment. In this context, Buy Black is not a reversion to racism but rather an opportunity to nurture spaces for black entrepreneurship. Quite reasonably, some activists think that Buy Black is the best tool to empower black entrepreneurs. Prior to desegregation, several black businesses prospered. However, with the advent of integration, many of these black businesses failed due to increasing competition.

Competition is indeed central to free market capitalism, but capitalism offers choice, and blacks are free to voluntarily endorse black businesses. Essentially, the message of Buy Black is that black America will become more prosperous when blacks invest their dollars in the black community. This outlook is more progressive than calls for welfare and wealth distribution.

Rather than disparaging the Buy Black movement, it should be seen as an activist form of capitalism. Instead of fixating on racial wealth gaps, blacks are preaching Buy Black as a tool to uplift the black community by investing in black entrepreneurs. Another upshot of the Buy Black movement is that it can function as a key tool for information on how to expand black businesses.

Globally, the Chinese have developed business networks, benevolent associations, and even directories to market their interests and cement economic relationships. The Ibos of Nigeria also invest in global networks to scale their businesses. So, there is nothing unusual about the activism of the Buy Black movement.

Furthermore, the Buy Black movement has opened doors for mentorship relationships by inspiring younger blacks to launch businesses targeting the needs of black Americans. Such people have benefited from the outreach and capacity building programs of black business groups. The growth of the Buy Black movement has enriched young entrepreneurs with expertise and knowledge that they would not have gained under normal circumstances.

The Buy Black movement has even ignited a boom in black banking. Numerous black Americans have transferred their accounts to black-owned banks. These banks are likely to invest in underserved communities, and the growing capitalization of black-owned banks fueled by the Buy Black movement will equip black entrepreneurs with the capital to start new businesses.

With this new injection of capital, banks have built customer service facilities to better serve clients and created financial literacy programs to help clients make decisions. The Buy Black movement has not only upgraded black-owned banks, it has also given them the equipment to make their clients more sophisticated. Buy Black is more than a cliché, and the evidence suggests that spending in the black community has a multiplier effect on investment. The consequences of buying black are also therapeutic because it exposes black youngsters to successful black entrepreneurs.

The Buy Black movement has its critics, but there is nothing racist or socialist about this project. Rather, it is another expression of market activism that’s superior to demanding that the state intervenes in the economy to eliminate racial gaps.

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