An article in the June 2011 Atlanta Tribune says that Black-owned firms make up more than 23 percent of the Atlanta metropolitan landscape. The June Issue is a primer on Black-owned businesses in the south, in general, and Atlanta, specifically. The article entitled, “City of Entrepreneurs”, The Tribune, a twenty five year old Black-owned magazine, cites an article in Forbes magazine as saying that Atlanta is the best city in the United States for “minority” entrepreneurs. Forbes uses factors like housing affordability, population growth and entrepreneurial spirit. Forbes put Atlanta ahead of 50 other cities with populations over 1 million.
Answering the question of, “how does Atlanta keep doing it, The Tribune says that when people think about making a living, entrepreneurship is “way up on the list.” Atlanta boasts an organization called the “Atlanta Business League,” an advocacy organization existing to promote Black Businesses.
Atlanta, with its Atlanta University Complex, is home to five of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including Clark Atlanta, Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse, Spelman, and Morris Brown. As a note, there are probably another 40 Black colleges including Howard in Washington, D.C. that are not part of the HBCU’s. The Tribune article points out that with their strong educational backgrounds, African Americans realized that since they were making big money for corporations, they could do it for themselves.
Atlanta is home to more than 127,000 Black-owned businesses, and Georgia is home to nearly 10 percent of all Black-owned businesses in the United States. While most of the businesses are small, they provide jobs to over one million people and contribute over 135 billion dollars to the economy.
The pattern of Black-owned businesses and Black college proximity demonstrates a trend that implies where you have educated people, you have people in business. A worthy goal. As the economic depression deepens, African Americans, as always, will suffer more. The old saying is that when white America gets a cold, Black America gets pneumonia, feels true.
The official unemployment rate in America has reached 9.2 precent. That means that for Black America, it’s another 6 or 7 percent, bringing the total to 16 %. With the Republicans trying to shut down government jobs like teaching, and the postal service, Blacks get hit hard.
Then, this year you also have Republicans like Michele Bachman saying that Blacks were better off in slavery than they are today with a Black President. You have the woman in Orange County publishing a picture of Obama looking like a monkey, saying it was a joke. You have Republican leaders saying their only goal is to make sure that Obama doesn’t get re-elected. It may all seem like a joke to some, but to Black America it smells like racism. George Bush put us in a near depression. Obama is blamed and charged with cleaning it up, such as saving the auto industry. And the racist Republicans say to their colleagues that if they vote for any Obama policy, they will fight to keep them from getting re-elected. They filibustered to stop a jobs bill passing and then they, hypocritically, turn around and ask the President where are the jobs?
My main premise here is if Black folks owned more businesses we would be better off. A good example of this is my own experience. I worked in my family’s second-hand store while I went to high school. And then I shined shoes in Reverend Toliver’s barber shop, but I was my own boss even at 14, and I also did janitorial work in my uncle’s janitorial business. That’s where I got my training and where I learned about being in business and being my own boss. You’ve got to be willing to do honest work for honest pay and you will be okay because when you finally get the job you want, you will understand how to work.
If you are blessed enough to start a business you like, you will find freedom. At least I did.