We talk about Black businesses all the time, but are we really practicing this doctrine of Black consciousness? As a collective, Black people claim they are about group economics but how many of us actually practice it? Yes, some of us have businesses in our community. Yes there is a growing trend for young Black people starting businesses after further education, but we are missing the key business links to connect us together. We have become too complacent with the system, to a point where we are not willing to bite the hand that feeds us.
Western society is built on imperialist and capitalist ideologies, which we consider to be the determining factor of what is best, whether we realise it or not. Now is the time to realise this. The Afrocentric must consider his or hers subconscious perspective. Do you still continue to think based upon Western ideology, or have you opened your eyes?
Marketing companies, sports athletes and celebrities have convinced the masses into buying products based on a logo. What a way to programme the mind. Afrocentrics believe that European ideals are the standard for fashion and business. People don’t buy iPhones because they are the best on the market – Android phones are – yet the majority of us will still buy the iPhone. As a brand that is powerful and global, apple remains to have the greatest impact on what we choose to buy.
Michael Jordan (former NBA player for the Chicago Bulls), created his famous basketball shoes, which is now highly recognised around the world. Despite this, the RRP for these shoes continue to rise up to as much as $400! Yet it only costs $100 to manufacture. Other well-known brands such as Adidas, Reebok, Puma, Nike, Under Armour, New Balance also have a range of shoes and prices.
So, what can we do to change our narrative?
Education – after all, knowledge is power! Once we know ourselves, we will love who we are. As a collective, Black people will strive to see a new found sense of being reflected throughout our community.
Re-directing the flow of money is crucial for Black business to thrive. Black Britain has a buying power of an estimated £300 billion, compared to Black America who have a buying power of $1 trillion. Imagine how many Black business owners, male and female, could be millionaires and billionaires? We spend our money like some of us eat jollof. Think of the youth centres we fight for but fail to keep open because of the lack of government funding. Think of the self-defence or computer science workshops we could be setting up. These are the kinds of services we must have in place to enrich and empower our children.
Hair and skincare products are problematic for Afrocentric consumers who are not catered for in the mainstream market. We are not a universal shade of colour. Black women spend over $9 billion on just HAIR. The market is a lucrative business and over the years, relaxer sales have been declining. As a result, mainstream hair product designers have resorted to promoting natural hair creams as Black women have gone natural. Yet, the Black community is slacking behind. Nearly all of our hair shops are dominated by Asian owners, who have been successful in creating franchises while selling to Black customers.
Asian owners who thrive from our own money is an example of the lack of collective in the Black community. We as Black people need to put aside our differences, build with each other and sell at realistic prices. Such a change will bring forth the circulation of money we must have in our community. We will be able to put food on the table for our brothers and sisters, and lay down the foundations needed to kick start our growth. In the Black community there is a lack of teamwork, and we fail to expose and create effective branding. As ridiculous as it sounds, some of us fear we will be cheated by our own brothers and sisters. By doing this we fail to promote each other which prohibits any growth and development.
Time is money and talk is cheap.
We like to talk more about the issue at hand rather than dealing with it head on. Part of the reason why Black businesses fail to grow is due to marketing. Social media has been effective in showcasing great new brands. Instagram and twitter are effective platforms for gaining the exposure we need.
Networking is instrumental. Meeting with other Afrocentric people, sharing business cards and ideas can help to increase our target audiences. Creating a blog, or radio show can also add to the mix of potential beginnings of success. By promoting one another, we can help to expand our businesses and re-ignite our form of unity.
Education is and always will be important, particularly regarding careers paths in science, technology, engineering, maths, law, teaching etc. Whilst we teach our children the fundamentals of education, we must also teach them to create a business. It is possible to have an education and a business, many have done so and continue to do so. Not only will having a business instil economic foundation, but it can be passed on to next generations to ensure the stability of our future.
As Black people, it is essential that we respond to our clouded perception of consumerism and business. We must understand how not buying Black is destroying what potential we have to thrive as a community. Let us make some noise with our coins. Let us change the narrative and go back to Black!
Eunice and Ogechi