I have witnessed the rapid demise of Black businesses. Black businesses are closing at an alarming rate. In fact, it's a STATE OF EMERGENCY for Black businesses. Do you see what I see? Is anybody paying attention? Does anybody care? Is there anybody awake in the village?
I am the chairperson of The West Coast Supporters of the Harvest Institute, supporters of Dr. Claud Anderson's economic empowerment plan. We sponsored "Get on the Bus Tours" in 2009. We took 40–50 people to three Black businesses on different Saturdays; one business was a sit-down restaurant. Our purpose for the tour was to expose the community to these businesses in hope that they would return and would tell others about the businesses and to give those businesses an economic boost. Many of these businesses have since closed their doors. Then, these businesses were reopened by Hispanic business owners. Remember Granny's Soul Food near 60th and Crenshaw, Cultural Affairs Restaurant & Arts, and The Waffle House on Vermont where the old Kite restaurant used to be?—They are gone and now owned by Hispanics.
Jobs come from business ownership. According to SBA, small businesses accounted for 65 percent of new jobs created between 1993–2009.
I hope you can see the correlation between business ownership and the unemployment rate of different races. Jobs that left this country are not returning any time soon. Those jobs are gone, and other races are hiring their own—so what is the
Black man/woman to do? It does not take a genius to find a solution. Entrepreneurship is the basis for economic empowerment for Blacks. Have you noticed who you do NOT see when you visit the courthouse, city hall, county and state facilities, doctors' offices, dentists' offices, and even hospitals? There are very few Black employees.
Starting a business is no longer a luxury—it is a necessity. This truth is what led my sister, attorney Clara Hunter King, and I to coauthor the book, What You Need To Know Before You Start Your Business. It is important to have the right information so that you can make informed decisions for your business. You need to know the different ways to own a business and the pros and cons of each.
The most critical component to the survival of Blacks is for Blacks to make a conscious decision to support Black businesses by any mean necessary. Be willing to pay a little more for products or services in order to support others of your race; go out of your way, if necessary, to tell others about the Black businesses that you know about. It is important for Black businesses to survive! Every time a Black business closes, a family suffers, and employees lose jobs. There was a time when a Black business owner would say, "I am going to close my business and go back to work for corporate America." Well, this is not an option today. There are no jobs to go back to.
Black business owners must seek Black businesses to patronize. Many of them holler about Blacks not patronizing their businesses, and yet, at the same time, they themselves do not frequent Black businesses when they need products or services. Even when dining out, they choose non-Black restaurants. Black business owners must align themselves with other businesses they can network with on a referral-fee-for-service system.
When a Black family-owned business closes, it impacts several households—and that's really traumatic. I thank God that I had other business ventures and my R.N. license to fall back on when the books and herbs store started suffering a loss a year ago. Many bookstores have closed their doors. The message that I am sending is that nothing is guaranteed in life. There is no security in any business or service, so the bottom line is: always have a Plan B. To sum it all up, what I am saying is Saving Black Businesses Is Everybody's Business.