How many times have you heard the term food desert, seen five McDonald’s in three blocks, or shopped at a store owned by people other than Black? In my experience, it has been just about every day of my life and I can be sure that you have a similar experience. There are several aspects for growth in Black communities and a key one is economic vitality. Often times we hear encouragements to buy black but the true question is not will we but can we.
Maggie Anderson of Chicago took on a project to address just that. She and her family ventured to buy from Black owned businesses for a year. She has now published a book that chronicles the events of the year and some takeaways from the experience. In the first stage of the year the family found it hard to purchase necessities such as fresh food and aspirin. This coming from the city with the most Black Owned businesses in the country. What should have been an easy transition proved difficult for the Andersons at first. What is the problem keeping the market so limited? In Anderson’s summation it is a two way street between consumer and buyers; the people must support the business so that it may build. At one time there were prominent areas of Chicago, which were completely Black owned but as our buying power grew we left the community banks and stores.
It seems like a compelling argument and definitely an important issue to take on in the home. If we begin at home then we can hope to see far reaching effects follow. That’s with economy and so many other goals we pursue as a people; whether buying black or simply living black we can reflect our actions onto others.