Short answer, no. But I have some time today, so I am going to take four minutes to explain.
Recently, I am being interviewed more and more by white journalists. After the obligatory “Why did you start BLK + GRN?”, they always ask “What do you say to people who say that Buying Black is racist?”
One, I say they do not understand racism. Racism is complex and the word is often thrown around like a racial slur. When we think of racism, most people think of individual racism, which is the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another. However, racism is much more complex than individual racism. Institutional and structural racism is much more damning than individual racism. Institutional racism refers to an institution making choices that intentionally single out or harm people of color and structural racism codifies individual, cultural, and other types of racism in perpetual systems. So, buying Black isn’t about individual belief of superiority, it doesn’t harm people of color nor does it codify these beliefs into a system of power.
Two, buying Black is fundamentally American. The conservative theme of bootstrapping, or lifting oneself or one’s community up the social and economic ladder through effort, hard work and personal responsibility, is the root of the Buying Black movement. It is an acknowledgement by the Black community, that collectively we have over $1.2 trillion dollars in spending power according to Nielsen, but we aren’t being as thoughtful as we should about where we are investing our money. We are taking personal responsibility to strengthen our communities, by recognizing that through entrepreneurship we can grow our work force, strengthen our communities, and control the quality of the products that we consume. Buying Black is the definition of lifting oneself and one’s community up the social and economic ladder. Now, let’s be clear, Buying Black is so fundamentally American, that it is strongly tied to capitalism and patriarchy, but that’s a discussion is for another day.
Three, not only is buying Black not racist but it is a specific response to structural and institutional racism. ThePBS documentary BOSS: The Black Experience in Business does an excellent job outlining the historical resistance of White America to a vibrant Black business community. From the fall of the first Black bank, to the destruction of Black Wallstreet, to the murder of a Black business men who was too powerful and too Black; Black businesses have always had to fight to thrive in the face of racial hostility, violence, economic exclusion, segregation, and discrimination. The systematic denial of small-business loans or the 1% investment of venture capitalist dollars into Black businesses is the result of institutional racism. And the Black communities desire to support our businesses despite the lack of investment, despite the threat of violence, is by definition, not racism.
Recent data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (2014) shows that Black households hold less than seven cents on the dollar compared to white households. And although Buying Black will not solve the inherently racist polices and structural systems that have created this wealth gap, it is one step in the right direction of gaining economic freedom. The goal of BLK + GRN, an all-natural marketplace by all Black Artisans, is to make it easy to Buy Black without compromising health, quality, or your values.
So, no buying Black is not racist it is a form of aligning our money with your values. Period.
Shop all natural products by all Black artisans at BLK + GRN