Written by Rasheedah Billups

August is Black Business Month, a month-long celebration of Black-owned businesses and an effort to bring awareness to the disparities that exist for Black business owners in America. According to National Today Black Business Month was organized by Frederick E. Jordan and John William Templeton and first celebrated in 2004. As the wealth gap between black and white families continues to widen, this is an indication that organized efforts like Black Business Month must extend beyond a single month. 

 

Black-owned Businesses in America over time

In the United States, since the 1700’s Black people have opened businesses, with numbers continuing to grow. As of 2021, there were 134,567 Black-owned employer businesses. Throughout history many Black business owners thrived and across the country prosperous communities of Black people formed. Among these communities there was Tulsa, Oklahoma, Seneca Village, Hayti District in Durham, North Carolina, The Fourth Avenue District, in Birmingham, Alabama, and others. These communities were met with and destroyed by white supremacists and systemic racism. 

 

To this day systemic racism persists, having detrimental effects on wealth, business ownership, homeownership, and a host of other economic and social issues. Lack of access to resources is just one of the many challenges Black entrepreneurs are faced with. “At founding, the average Black-owned business has around $500 of outside equity (such as venture capital and angel financing); the average white-owned business has more than $18,500 from outside equity.” In addition to lack of funding, Black-owned businesses are more likely to fail. 

 

Following the turbulence of 2020 the topic of equality and equity became unavoidable. Across platforms, individuals and organizations released statements about racial, social, and economic equity and there was a resounding interest in supporting Black-owned businesses. Many of these conversations have since become relegated to archived social media posts and footnotes. Fast forward to 2022 and the racial disparities that mark entrepreneurship, homeownership, wealth, and the job market still prevail. 

 

How do we fix the problem

To address the issue, the topic of Black businesses must extend beyond August. Creating an inclusive and equitable environment in which Black Businesses can thrive will have to be a year round conversation where we all are committed to pushing for change. In addition to keeping the dialogue going, we can take action in other ways as well. Here are a few examples of we can support:

  • Make it a habit to shop at Black-owned businesses.
  • Spread the word about Black-owned businesses among friends and family, and across platforms. 
  • Be the plug and connect Black-owned businesses with resources. This can even include offering time and/or expertise to help them close the gap in specific areas.
  • Provide positive feedback and reviews to help Black-owned businesses get more customers in their doors.
  • Pay attention to and connect with organizations that advocate for the advancement of Black-owned businesses, like the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency, Operation Hope, and many more.