It is no secret that African Americans are the least included group when it comes to nearly everything in our country. It is a large part of why this blog even exists. It is why #alllivesmatter is hashtagged when it comes to police brutality but #blacklivesmatter is so frowned upon. It is why we have websites like Black People Meet and magazines like Ebony. No, we are not excluding White people. We are simply creating a safe haven where our voices can be heard unapologetically. And yet still, we are considered the criminals when it comes to exclusion.
I watched a video this morning where Jada Pinkett Smith incited a Call To Action asking Black people to boycott the Oscars because there were NO Black nominees. How is that possible? Let me give you some numbers:
The Oscars have been in production for 87 years. In those 87 years, there have been only 13 Black winners and only 32 African Americans nominated. 13 winners, 32 nominees, in 87 years out of 24 categories.
There is a serious problem here. Spike Lee has joined in Jada’s boycott and Youtube sensation Franchesca “Chescaleigh” Ramsey recently made a hilariously accurate video illustrating the lack of diversity in the form of a nail polish tutorial.
African Americans in this country had $1.1 trillion dollars in buying power in 2015 and yet we are the least likely group to spend our money on Black owned businesses (www.blackenterprise.com) . As Jada said, do you know how much power we have? We should no longer have to beg for inclusion. If we took those dollars and recreated Black Wall Street, can you imagine the benefit?
Even still, we are begging. We are begging to be included. We are on our hands and knees praying for acceptance and to be recognized. So my question to you is this:
What level of inclusion is considered enough when it comes to African Americans in our country?
I will go ahead and answer that question for you. It is a very difficult number to gage because the number is already so high just to get us back to a level playing ground, it is nearly impossible to calculate. It seems as if we are slowly catching on and realizing what has to be done. We are slowly seeing the bigger picture in the concept of starting our own Black owned businesses and to stop becoming consumers of companies that want absolutely nothing to do with us- or just enough so that they are not looked at as exclusionary. It seems perfectly acceptable to just sprinkle a person of color here and there in their advertisements so they can comfortably say, “Hey look there, Black people. We do include you!”
Before I started blogging, I had a very successful business in skincare. My company had customers of all ethnicities and backgrounds. When I was approached by an up and coming popular business here in Atlanta, GA to include my line of products in their merchandise, I was beyond excited. I was invited to join, met with the owner and told, “yes, we want you to join our makers”. One night I am out and run into the owner of the store whom I had met with previously and she proceeds to ask me very directly,
“Would you mind changing your packaging? It seems like your company only caters to Black people”.
I was so offended that the only thing I could do was walk away. I reached out to several mentors and received different advice ranging from “just let it go” to someone even telling me that in order to run a successful Black owned business, you have to hide behind White promotion. Do not include too many African Americans in your advertising. Stay out of the spotlight. Say word?
I did give in. I changed my packaging. And guess what? My sales increased. I found myself in a daily battle with my consciousness for what I had done and why I had chose to do it. Eventually the stress of it all, combined with other things, led me to the decision to step back on that particular business. I did not want to compromise my morals, standards, and values just to be accepted. I do not remember hearing of anyone telling Clairol or Sephora to diversify their companies to include more Black models for inclusion. Of course not. Because White people only see exclusion as a real concept when they themselves are the ones who feel left out. Oh the irony.
So, my Call To Action as it has been for many years, spend your money and time where it is wanted. Do not waste your time continuing to frequent that bakery where you are not wanted. What for? Stop giving them your dollars, thinking you are proving a point that you can do what you want to do. At the end of it all, they are banking on your ignorance and need to be accepted. I can bet that there is a Black owned bakery in your neighborhood that would absolutely love to have you sit down and spend money with them.
Think on this.
I would love to hear your thoughts.