Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yet Another Example of African-American Racism

I received a press release titled, "Bay Area Welcomes 'Buy Black Only' Experiment"

That press release announced a promotional tour by a top-university-educated couple (pictured, right) who, for an entire year, pledged to shop only at African-American-owned businesses.

In other words, they were proudly proclaiming their essentially boycotting all businesses owned by Asians, Latinos, Whites, and Native Americans.

I find the racism of that troubling.

A goal of their promotional tour is to solicit sponsors to expand their efforts.

When I queried the PR firm (Flowers Communications, which cites among its clients, Sears, Wells Fargo, McDonald's, Honda, and the Chicago White Sox) that issued the press release, I found the response from its vice president, Ronald E. Childs (pictured, center) equally racist:
"Welcome to America. Jewish people advocate patronizing their own business community first, before venturing outside their own, as do Asians, Hispanics, Italians, the Irish, Polish and people of virtually every other culture."
Mr. Childs additionally attempted to justify "Buy Black Only" by citing Jim Crow and lynchings.

Dear readers, your thoughts?


JimJinNJ said...

American Blacks, not all of course, but a sizable portion, define themselves racially. It's as if they have no identity other than being black. It's partly the result of media and mindset that is reinforced by black "leaders". Think of how many blacks seem to study black history, want to work in the "community", devote their life to their race. I don't get it. I've experienced no other racial group that is that fixated. It is a cycle of loss however. Po' me! Po' us! I'm fortunate to have several black friends who feel as I do. A few seem to define themselves as individuals, by their accomplishments, their families, etc. Frankly, I think many blacks are embarrassed to be black and they protect themselves by by being habitually pro-black.
It may be racist what this couple is doing. But it is certainly pathetic. Be an engineer, be a good person, a smart person, a kind person. there's so much more to life than one's race.

Jeffrie said...

So this person compared legal racial segregation and murdering of innocent people to shopping? He must be smarter than me because I can't think of a context where such a comparison would make sense.

I used to work in a music store. It went out of business 5 years ago. Every once in a while, a customer would say something like "I believe in supporting local business, BUT ..." and then go on to say why they were buying stuff over the internet. Those same people were often surprised to hear that the store was closing.

It didn't surprise me. The customers got what they wanted elsewhere, because the other places suited their needs. The store where I worked couldn't keep up.

I'm the same way. I go to the places that fill my needs, local or not. As long as it's an honest, legitimate business, I'm not concerned with the identity of the owner, and certainly not their skin color. If anything drives me away, it's poor service. A good business will attract and welcome a variety of customers.

They have a website
if you want to know more about the original experiment. I was not at all surprised to learn they're writing a book about the experience. They're also taking donations. I bet they'll take them from anybody, no matter the skin color. When it comes right down to it, green is green.

JimJinNJ: I'm probably more like your friends than like the couple that started this. Many factors define who I am.

Anonymous said...

These folks aren't saying "don't buy from white-owned shops, those people's ancestors still owe us back wages with interest."

I don't see a movement to patronize black businesses as prejudice against every other race; they are hoping that prejudging black shopowners as more likely to keep money earned in the community circulating in the community than the owners of big chains are is an accurate prejudice.

In fact, it's probably a futile gesture, since there are relatively few vertically integrated black-owned retail chains. Most of their money immediately flows out to pay for the goods.

The MLK quote on their website is a better idea - be aware of who you bank with, be mindful of where the bulk of your money is sitting.

I don't know if you're aware of the movement to get money out of the worst of the bailed-out banks and into community banks or not.

My money lands briefly in my Chase checking account (free checking, grandfathered in from WaMu) but never stays in the savings account, nor dwells long in the checking account. I cost Chase money. I love it.

To the extent that I can, I'm getting my money out of the US outright. I love that my 401(k) offers non-US investments. I get a tax break and that money does not stay here but heads abroad.

I gather that you're headed in that direction as well. I don't know where the actual capital rests in an ETF, but my suspicion is that it winds up being invested, in your case, in our new Chinese overlords' economy, where I try to divide up between China, India and Brazil.

But at the end of the day, hopefully each of us will have a shorter stay in the People's Reeducation Facility once the bill collectors finally reposess, since we can each show a history of loyalty.

Anonymous said...

Blacks voted 24 to 1 for Obama. How's that for racism?

Marty Nemko said...

Most recent Anonymous, I don't consider a lopsided African-American vote for Obama to be evidence og widespread Black racism. His very liberal positions on issues are VERY popular with American-Americans so even if he were white, I'd bet he'd get a lopsided majority of Black votes, although probably not a 24:1 ratio.

adisa said...

Marty Nemko wrote: "His very liberal positions on issues are VERY popular with American-Americans..."

You have a misread on African Americans. As a group African Americans tend to be more "conservative" than Obama on domestic policies (e.g., abortion, crime, guns, religion, immigration, education, economy, etc.). On the other hand, African Americans tend to disagree with the recognized "Conservatives" on race and foreign policy.

African Americans crossing the aisle to vote for Obama had more to do with the African American desire to improve the collective lot. Black Republicans and Democrats typically see Black advancement in non-political (read: partisan) terms and can unify around a common goal when opportunities for significant advancement are available. This has been demonstrated repeatedly by African Americans through history.

Similarly, had Colin Powell run for President in 2000, as a Republican, we would have seen a significant 'crossing of the aisle' from the Black Democrat side to vote for that Black Republican. And that would have occurred despite any policy nuance disagreements with Bush I-era Colin Powell.

Marty Nemko said...

Thank you, Adisa, for a thoughtful comment. It enriches my understanding and, I'm sure, that of many readers.

Mama T said...

I don't see this as racist - I see it as making conscious choices to support their community. I believe many of us want to support our communities - however we define our community. I support local, sustainable farmers; I'm a white mother of 2 black children and I choose to shop shop at black owned businesses when I can; I support my local bookstore. Those are all things that are important in my little world and its where I want my money to go.

Marty Nemko said...

Mama T,

How would you feel about whites wanting only to support white businesses, or Asians wanting to only support Asian businesses?

Society is best when we make our choices based on merit and on what's best for the overall society, not what's best for "our community." We need less pluribus and more unum.

Anonymous said...

Less pluribus and more unum at times. When it is about atomizing the workforce and encouraging everyone to become essentially a small entrepeneur - or a small self-exploiter, as many 'entrepeneurs' in small businesses work much longer hours for much less reward than their counterparts in larger shops do - it's less unum, more pluribus.

Merely a coincidence that small shopowners are likely in this last group; here we have one group's customers trying to - in essence - form a union of sorts with them.

And that is so threatening that it should be labeled not organizing but racism?

You chose not to respond to the observation that is not a movement that says "don't patronize the white man" - it's a movement that says "keep the money in the community as long as you can. It is in the community's economic self-interest to do that."

If you don't think there's a difference, the Gospels feature a similar logical inversion:

"He that is not against us is for us" (Luke, 9:50)


"He who is not with me is against me" (Luke 11:23)

These two statements have very different implications.

Anonymous said...

Racial discrimination by businesses is prohibited, yet the same behavior by customers is not.

The Govt works in strange and wondrous ways.

Dr. Michael R. Edelstein

Misha said...

It seems to me that your article and most of the points raised fail to address the real issue.

By 'buying Black' this couple is trying to deal with institutional racism by creating a mini-affirmative action plan. And frankly it makes sense to me. Many Black business are treated with distrust before consumers actually buy the product and this is due, in part, to ingrained racism. whomp whomp.

Dave said...

The thinking might be construed as racist, but the logic is no different than our current national mantra of "buy American" and "support American businesses." In the end however, consumers will patronize those businesses that give them the best value for their hard-earned dollar, "feel-good" agendas and mantras be damned.

ST said...

In places like Madison, WI, where I frequent, you see a lot of "cash only" small businesses to support the local community (money tends to stay in the community, they say).

Probably the mass majority of consumer spending is to big box stores and online, so "community spending" is minor in most cases, although I realize many people like it and wish it would go back to the mom and pop store and craftsman economy days.

Marty Nemko said...

The side effects of explicitly racial allocation of resources outweigh any justifications, in my view.

Anonymous said...

But what about *implicitly* racial allocation of spending?

Everything you touch represents a choice. It is, to paraphrase the Pretenders, your loudest political voice in our society.

Why shouldn't that be an informed and empowered voice?

Most business is done at places with white management and white ownership - even some surprising examples:

BET, Black Entertainment Television -- now owned by Viacom

Essence Magazine - now owned by Time

The George Foreman Grill - owned by Applica, originally bankrolled by Salton

SoftSheen - owned by L'Oreal

Aside from Foreman, these business had their start as black-owned, but became valuable enough to be takeover targets.

Another instance of implicitly nationalist spending is WalMart. Sure, the net profits stay in Arkansas, but a lot of the gross goes to pay for goods manufactured in China (or Thailand, or Vietnam, or whoever's offering their employees most cheaply.)

Apple Computer's another great example here, as the suicides at Foxconn, their huge Chinese supplier, have put front and center lately. (in Foxconn's defense, they have a workforce of around 300,000. 11 suicides in a group that large in China is actually below, not above, the annual rate, estimated at 14 per 100,000 by WHO.)

Marty Nemko said...

Most recent Anonymous: Of course, every buying decision benefits some persons more than other but to systematically insist that one buy only from black-owned businesses strikes me nearly as wrong as insisting one buy only from white-owned businesses.

Kelly said...

It's definitely racist, but I would call it a pretty benign form of racism and, in view of the small number of truly black-owned businesses, a rather pathetic effort. If they're really concerned about promoting black-owned businesses, they might first consider actually starting some.

Sure, if whites announced they were going to buy exclusively white, there would be a mass outcry. And for sure, that would be racist. But I don't think even that would really be worth shouting about. People of all colors are allowed to make their buying decisions based on whatever criteria they want -- even stupid criteria.

Anonymous said...

So what? The ubiquitous and unquestioned assumption that the ideal should be a harmonious melting pot is racist, too. And it's fake.

LS said...

Some folks are more concerned with what they are rather than who they are.

Anonymous said...

Human beings are intensely tribal. Always have been, most always will be. They will find any reason to band together into like groups, be it race, religion, income, or even attractiveness. Very few ever overcome this tendency.

Unfettered by white guilt, many other races have absolutely no problem with open and direct bigotry and racism. When America becomes minority white in 50 years or less, it should get very interesting.

Silver said...

Marty, how was Hillary any less liberal than Obama? Blacks still flocked to Obama in numbers that by no stretch of the imagination can be regarded as anything but evidence of intense in-group identity.


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