The History of Black-Owned Businesses

Nothing has exemplified the struggle to achieve the American dream than the Black experience. From the first slave ship until the present day, every generation of African-Americans has had to fight injustice and survival. As we know from contemporary movement Black Lives Matter, which organized as a reaction to police brutality and systematic oppression, we know we have plenty of work to do before the ‘promised land’ has been reached. The bravery and determination of black resistance, from slave rebellions to bus boycotts to contemporary demonstrations, has dismantled laws and implemented civil rights.


Yet the journey from slave to CEO is far from over, with racial prevalence in business as persistent as ever. The notion of an African-American with power and money has always been the greatest threat to white supremacy and thus has been met with violent suppression, and this fear continues to this day.


The historic oppression of African-Americans who have tried to succeed in business and the reasons why the fear of the successful black man has been so prevalent will be outlined in this article. We shall explore how these resistances have led to modern America and the slow dismantling of barriers for African-Americans in business.

The necessity of modern movements has proven the extent of contemporary racism and discrimination

While black mobility has forged new roads to allow the embarking of new avenues, we cannot simply celebrate those who paved the way without reminding ourselves of those who still are restricted from taking even the first step to empowerment. The American journey can still be a bleak picture for African Americans. To find out why, let’s go to the roots, the birth of black capitalism.

The Birth of Black Capitalism

Support’s growing

Although the growth of black businesses has been steady rather than spectacular, in recent years there has been more substantial growth in the active support of black businesses. Modern innovations are helping to offset archaic practices. With apps such as The Nile List and Official Black Wallstreet, consumers can find black-led businesses which they can support. 


In 2020-21 the United States saw waves of racial unrest, sparked by the murder of George Floyd. It’s interesting that in the aftermath of this, June 2020 saw record high Google searches for ‘Black-owned businesses near me’ and smartphone restaurant discovery apps added features for discovering black-owned restaurants. Businesses on social media lists also saw significantly increased sales.


The mountain is tall, but we’ve never been better placed to climb it

Why this is important

The wealth gap in America today is shockingly large. When looking at the figures – white families having a median wealth 12 times greater than the average black family – without knowing the year it was recorded, one could naively assume that it was from 1921, not 2021. 


Having thriving businesses, equally represented by the diversity of America, we can help reduce these frightening figures. As reported by the University of Nevada, being a business owner “is a tangible pathway for African Americans to achieve economic parity and close the racial wealth gap.”


Another racial underpinning that’s still present in modern America is unemployment. Today, 6.6% of black Americans are unemployed, almost double the number of white Americans. By supporting black businesses, not only are we helping that individual, but the community whom they work in, and the gainful employment that that business provides. 


These are just a couple of examples as to why supporting black communities is to the benefit of us all, and an objective we should all have if we want the American dream to be a genuine aspiration for everyone.


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