Written by Manyell Akinfe-Reed

When Obama was running for president, the big conversation in a lot of my circles was, “Are you voting for him because he’s Black or because he’s the best candidate?”

For me it was both.  For real, for real, he would’ve had to do something really, bad for me to put my ‘because he’s Black’ reason on the shelf.  I was understandably challenged in a few conversations, and honestly, I even challenged myself. My conclusion was drawn based on the consistent reminder of the caste system, the constant disregard for Black life, and the widening wealth gap, all reasons enough for me to vote for him just because he’s Black. My hope was that he would show up and show out.  What he actually did is a topic for another time, but I share this because of the similar conversations I’m having this month, Black Business Month,  about supporting Black businesses.

Black businesses with employees make up only 2% of businesses and begin with only $35,000 in capital compared to their white counterparts who begin with $107,000. For me that’s reason enough to forgive some of the challenges I encounter when supporting  black-owned businesses. 

I think we write off our own people too easily. If they miss a sauce in our meal, if they deliver late, if it’s not 100% what we wanted we get all up in arms, but give white businesses passes every day. Look, I’m not saying we should lower our standards or settle for subpar service, but what I am saying is that we need to give our brothers and sisters some grace. They are dealing with the same life challenges that we are, PLUS trying to show up as an entrepreneur. So, when they don’t get it all the way right, remember that they’re navigating the same racist ish day to day just like you and I, so be easy.  

What you can do is get in touch with the owner and give them some constructive feedback instead of perpetuating the “see how we are,” “if this was a white business…” narrative.  If you don’t have the time or don’t care to do that then just take your business elsewhere and keep those businesses names out of your month unless someone’s safety is in danger. There is no need for you to take to social media or get on your soapbox with a bull horn to drag the business. We don’t need any more of us hurting us. If we want the black dollar to circulate more than one time in our communities, it may take some just cuz-support.