by Bartholomew J. Worthington III
A trillion dollars. Let that sink in for a moment. One trillion dollars is a one followed by 12 zeroes. It is one million millions. If one were to count to a trillion, counting a number a second, it would take an astounding 31,688 years. By any measure, a trillion is a mind-boggling number.
And by recent estimates, a Trillion dollars is how much African Americans are expected to contribute to the American economy in 2014. Yes, that’s right. even with all the cards and obstacles we face as a people, the African American consumer is one of the most important segments of the American economy.
Yet, even with all of that collective wealth, we continue to experience unacceptably high levels of almost every negative economic measure. As of my writing this, Black unemployment stands at 11.4%, more than twice the rate for whites (5.3%) Even while the overall economy continues to improve, Black poverty remains alarmingly high at 27.2%. More than 11 million Black Americans are below the poverty line, and a shameful 42.5% of households headed by single Black women existed in poverty. Thirty nine percent of our children live in poverty.
It turns out that our significant collective resources has not translated into collective improvement for our communities because we have largely remained consumers but have not become producers. Black people practice community economics less than any other group in America.
A study done by the NAACP revealed that while an Asian dollar circulates for a month in the community, a Jewish dollar for 20 days, and a white dollar for 17 days, the Black dollar stays in the Black community for a mere 6 HOURS. Additionally, only 2 cents of every Black dollar spent is spent with a Black business.
Speaking about our businesses, there is good news and bad news. First the positive. Since 2000, Black business ownership has increased over 60%, more than any other group. There are now more Black owned businesses than at any other time in the history of this country. Based on a 2012 survey, 37% of Black business owners had plans to add employees. Additionally, 2 out of every 3 employees hired by Black businesses were also Black.
Now the bad news. Black businesses are more likely to fail due to challenges securing the capital necessary to grow and expand. More bad news. Our businesses tend to have lower sales and profits and smaller payrolls than white owned businesses. While Black people make up 14% of the population of this country, we only own 7% of the businesses. Out of nearly 2 million Black owned businesses, only approximately 100,000 of these businesses hire any employees.
So now, more than ever, we need to be focused on creating and growing our own businesses. Businesses that create Black wealth, and keep the Black dollar in the Black community. No longer can we afford to let the Black dollar serve to generate wealth for everyone BUT Black people. No longer can we afford to use our dollars to support businesses who support policies that are to our disadvantage.
We will now systematically divest our dollars out of businesses not invested in our communities, or in us as a people. We will turn our dollars inwards and invest in building up our businesses and our community infrastructure.
We will start with small actionable steps. First, pledge your support to Black owned businesses EVERY Friday. Buy Black or hold on to your dollars. Our dollars can have a collective impact. Learn More About BlackOut Fridays here.
The next step is to Boycott Black Friday. Pledge not to get caught up in the hysteria and hype of giving our dollars to those who have our worst interests at hears. We can not afford to let our demands continue to go unacknowledged. If they refuse to hear us, they will FEEL us. Learn More About Boycott Black Friday here.
As we grow this movement, we will take back what is rightfully ours and use it to build up own own. According to the recently release Nielsen 2014 Holiday Sales Fora, “African Americans say they plan to spend 17% more [this holiday shopping season].” Million dollar corporations are already salivating over the prospect of getting their hands on our Black dollars.
With an estimated $616.9 billion expected to be spent over the holidays, we can no longer afford to be complicit in our own oppression.
The age of a Million Man March is over. This is the dawn of the age of the Trillion Dollar Boycott. Going forward, the new mantra is “NO JUSTICE, NO PROFITS.”
“THE BLACK FIST IS A MEANINGLESS SYMBOL. WHEN YOU OPEN IT, YOU HAVE NOTHING BUT FINGERS–WEAK, EMPTY FINGERS. THE ONLY TIME THE BLACK FIST HAS SIGNIFICANCE IS WHEN THERE’S MONEY INSIDE. THERE’S WHERE THE POWER LIES.”