How To Leverage African American Spending-Power By Supporting Black-Owned Businesses

Bob Law

Scholars who convened an African American Economic Summit at Howard University in early February sketched a very bleak economic future for Black Americans.

Noting that the White-Black wealth disparity is more than $20 to 1, conference participants said that we are basically talking about an economic system that is shot through with discrimination. The Washington Post reported that Bernard E. Anderson, a former assistant Secretary of Labor, as well as others at the summit, said that despite the discrimination factor the government is reluctant to attack the economic disparities between Blacks and Whites head-on.

At the same time, recent studies point out that Black consumer spending is at an all time high, while Black communities suffer the highest unemployment, the lowest median family income, and the highest debt, African Americans still outspend all other minority groups, in all categories, spending over $1 trillion dollars annually on goods and services that are purchased primarily from non Black-owned businesses.

Nike, the global sportswear conglomerate acknowledges that young Black men are a major driving force behind Nike’s success, both as consumers and as trendsetters. The African American Consumer: Still Vital, Still Growing 2012 Report states that Black Americans are a driving force for popular culture. According to the report, 73% of Whites and 67% of Hispanics acknowledge that Blacks influence mainstream American culture.

From the corporate community to other ethnic groups, every community is enriched by Black spending except the Black community. Therefore we fully intend to renegotiate the Black community’s financial relationship with corporate America and all others doing business in the African American marketplace. We believe however that a significant starting point is for Black Americans to first take control of our own spending.

It is time to turn Black spending into real power. Frederick Douglass was correct when he said “Who you give your money to, is who you give your power to”.  We begin to reclaim our power by turning more of our own dollars back into the Black community.

As a coalition of Black media owners and Black professional and political organizations we are calling on Black Americans in each city to begin immediately to commit to spending $20.00 a week in a Black owned business. The movement, which is called the Million Dollar Black Spending Power Campaign is being organized by local groups in a number of cities, and even with minimal support, this effort will turn $1 million dollars a week back into the various Black communities throughout the country.

Through ongoing activities nationwide, we will begin to mobilize Black consumer dollars, including Recycle Black Dollars Shopping Tours and cash flow events, similar to the cash mobs currently being practiced by other ethnic groups. We will also utilize referral groups, alternative media, local community forums and local community based business expos. In addition coalition media partners will encourage their audiences to support the overall campaign.

We are moving to create what have been called networks of reciprocity or, as Dr. Claud Anderson has instructed, it is a new orientation for Black America within the framework of a national plan, the practice of group economics. The primary goal of practicing group economics is to draw wealth, income and other resources back into Black communities in order to revitalize and to stabilize those local economies. Group economics is not new. It is what has already given other ethnic groups significant advantages in the marketplace.  Joel Kotkin, in his book Tribes, described how Race, Religion and Identity determine success in the new global economy. Kotkin found that although the very successful cultures he studied had vastly different histories, they all shared three critical characteristics.

The first of which is a strong ethnic identity and sense of mutual dependence that helps the group adjust to changes in the economic and political order without losing its essential unity, simply put, group economics.

Secondly they established networks based on mutual trust that allowed the group to function collectively beyond the confines of national or regional borders, again group economics. And finally they all possessed an open minded passion for technical and other knowledge from all possible sources.

Ultimately we must control and use our considerable resources as outlined in PowerNomics : The National Plan to Empower Black America, to create a Black community that is politically and economically self sufficient and competitive in this 21st Century.

At the same time, we must insure that in order to continue to receive our formidable consumer dollars, the major corporations as well as the local business that prosper from our super spending must begin immediately to reinvest in the Black community in a meaningful way.  As we begin to control and target our spending we begin to reclaim our economic power, effectively turning Black spending into real power.

Additional information can be found on the website at  and via email to: [email protected] or [email protected]


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