Getting Even with Equity
Just weeks before the first National Black Business Month in 2004, co-founder John William Templeton got the call most African-Americans dread -- that his younger brother had died in police custody. For the first time in 13 years, he discusses those feelings in a special Black Voices, Black Lives section for the San Franicsco Chronicle.
As tens of thousands seek to #DemonstratewithDollars during the 13th annual National Black Business Month or #DemonstratewithDining during #EatBlackDays Aug. 25-28, Templeton has a perspective on those emotions.
"When the reality of making a living overwhelms your anger, one needs a positive reason to show you're right by supporting black businesses all year round.
Here are several reasons which you may not have thought about:
Averting Consumer Racial Profiling -- The financial, retail and online behemoths have turned to mathematical formulas to make many decisions which affect your consumer experience from cashing a check to receiving discounts and delivery or even your ability to stay in a given lodging --somethnig we thought we won back in the 1960s. The worst financial calamity since the Great Depression occurred because of these algorithms, which targeted African-Americans for predatory loans. The same "quants" are hard at work in every industry now. When websites capture as many as 200 different facts about you to sell to marketers, you are at their mercy. Using bankblack.info or BlackRestaurant.NET to find financial services or food avoids that invasion of your privacy. It is much easier to detect patterns of discrimination when black consumers are aggregated at black financial institutions like the members of the National Bankers Association.
Black businesses have your back -- The day to day work of fighting discrimination happens in long, boring meetings of government bodies and private institutions which you don't even know exist. For instance, the $20 billion to be distributed in Gulf States from the BP Horizon spills is about to be disbursed. Black business leaders are the people with the experience and standing to fight for equity in these proceedings. We prepared the voluminous Our10Plan: State of Black Business, 13th edition, to give them a reference guide to work from. Fred Jordan and I spent long hours fighting Prop. 209, the anti-affirmative action initiative, 20 years ago, but we didn't hang our heads because of that defeat. Just last year, Fred won a decision by the California High Speed Rail Authority to set a goal of 30 percent of procurement with minority and women owned businesses. We can't fight those battles without your patronage.
People See You Through Us -- Donald Trump says things most white people think. When he dismissed our situation as "what do you have to lose," he wasn't thinking about black business owners with huge market share. That's why you have to change the perception that all we do is spend. I've spent most of my career either working for black businesses or owning one. One gets treated differently, but even more so when customers are demonstrating their support.