“Our Black Year” by Maggie Anderson is a chronicle of her family’s endeavor to buy Black for a year. The book is definitely worth a read. It makes Black people think about what it means to be Black in America and the progress of Black people from an economic perspective. Because the book inspired so much thought and brings to light a number of issues, I will probably have a series of posts related to the book. This is the first.
Anderson’s journey was intriguing. The challenges that she faced forced to come to terms with a number of things about herself as well as the Black Community. The data complied from her experiment will be highly useful for future research and substantiating a number of well known economic issues faced by Black people in America.
While much of the discovery was disheartening, Anderson is innovative and dedicated and finds a number of ways in which the average Black person can funnel money back into the Black community. One idea that I will be using is her idea to locate Black owned franchises such as McDonald’s or Quiznos that are owned by Black people and purchasing gift cards at that location and using the gift cards when shopping at other locations which may be closer to where you live or work but may not be Black owned. This provides the Black owned business with your much needed money but still gives you the convenience of not having to travel out of your way to get to the location everytime you want to spend long at the franchise. I also think this should be something that Black retailers should look into. Black retailers should find a way to offer gift cards for their business chains that would give black people the option to spend their long with them even if they are not physically a part of the community in which the business is located.
Anderson also recounts how, historically, businesses in America recognized the buying power that the Black community possesses and sought ways to exploit that power. Hence, the reason we see so many ethnic Black faces as well as Black music in McDonald’s commercials. This was an important thing to note because individually we do not recognize the economic potential that we possess in the Black community. Too often we think our little bit of money isn’t making a difference, but we fail to recognize that many companies like McDonald’s, Walmart, BP, Citgo, and other retailers that are predominantly found in Black communities flourish of our individual little bit of money.
This happens because we do not always think of ourselves as members of a community. We live our lives in a mental bubble of separation refusing to acknowledge others in our community only by their physical proximity. That is the biggest obtacle that we face as Black people in America: how to retain our individuality while operating as a member of a collective. Anderson’s research and experience highlights this dificiency and while she alone cannot provide the answer, her discovery should serve as a call to action for all of us to find a solution. We will not find the answers alone.
I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’,
An Angry Black Man