August is National Black-Owned Business Month.
This is bigger than the acknowledgment of retail in our nation. The wealth discrepancies in Black earning potential is huge. According to the study, The Economic State of Black America 2020, the median wealth held by Black families is $17,000. That’s opposed to $171,000 held by White families — a ratio of 10 to 1.
This is not to elevate or segregate, but rather to unite and bring awareness. Many times it can be easy to look at the world from the scope of our own view. It is a beautiful thing when we are reminded to widen that perspective. I challenge us all as a society to reflect on the impact we are creating. What we don’t heal, we repeat. Awareness allows us to create new paths for the next generations to come.
Everyone should see themselves.
I’m going to discuss some things to think about. I challenge you to scroll your social media. Take a look at your marketing and events. Would any and everyone be able to spot someone who looks like them?
Here are four tips on how we can do just that:
- Take a look at your social circles. This can be challenging because maybe we don’t live in an area that is diverse. Emerge yourself in other cultures. Read books. Ask questions. Seek out play dates for your children where they can be exposed to others who are different from them.
- Take a look at the businesses you support. We evoke change by the way we spend our money. Get to know the stories behind the brands. The greatest compliment a company can receive is a referral. Showcase and share the good experiences.
- Find directories. The internet has tons of resources to find businesses you can support. Many communities have also created apps and other resources to simplify an easy search.
- Partner with a business and be vocal. Think about ways to collaborate with a brand that could use more exposure. Even if their products or services might not directly benefit you, it could be possible it would benefit someone in your audience. If you see others in your field not practicing inclusion, be brave enough to call them out.
The first Black Barbie Doll came out in 1980. I was born in 1985. It was more normal for me to play with toys and read books with characters who didn’t look like me. Nobody ever had to tell me I didn’t belong. Society did. Nobody had to ever tell me I was different. Entertainment did.
As a result, more times than not I have been “the” Black girl in the room. I remember staring at advertisements and businesses in admiration. But I didn’t see myself. I didn’t see people who looked like me. I didn’t see people with my personality. See, it is hard to foster the dream when you aren’t in the vision. Here is the thing: you might have to be the person to create the opportunities. Or maybe even the person who invites others to speak up. This is how change begins.
Above all, as we reflect on this month let us all be open. It is my hope that we get uncomfortable. That we are not afraid to start the hard conversations, and more importantly take action. Small steps can create positive results. Let’s stand together for greater change.