A Battle That Has Not Been Lost
“African Americans have fewer assets than whites and are less likely to be homeowners, to own their own business, and to have a retirement account.
The stress that black businesses have been going through during COVID is in addition to years of systematic racism, wealth inequality, and economic disparities that have been prevalent for years. The unfortunate truth is that by simply being a black business owner, you are working against a prejudiced and fixed system the moment you enter the workforce, even as an employee. Black households, and black workers specifically, have endured far greater struggles than their white counterparts because they have historically been far more susceptible to higher unemployment rates, lower incomes, less savings to fall back on, and undoubtedly more severe poverty rates. When you add a pandemic to an already injustice-ridden mix, you’re left with the remains of black businesses that never had a level playing field to begin with. According to a study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research, ‘41% of black owned businesses closed down between February and April of this year.’ Not only were black people suffering higher rates of mortality from COVID, they were also the ones seeing the highest unemployment rates, poverty increases, and business closures.
Research from the Economic Policy Institute provides us with some statistics regarding the unemployment rates in comparison to that of white workers:
"Black workers have faced unemployment rates twice as high as those of their white counterparts. When the overall unemployment rate averaged 3.7% in 2019, the white non-Hispanic unemployment rate was 3.0% and the black unemployment rate was twice as high, coming in at an average of 6.1% over the year. This difference cannot be explained away by differences in educational attainment. At every level of education, the black unemployment rate is significantly higher than the white unemployment rate, even for those workers with college or advanced degrees."
Additionally, the Centre for American Progress reports on a different type of problem that seemingly plays by the same tune as one mentioned above:
“African Americans have fewer assets than whites and are less likely to be homeowners, to own their own business, and to have a retirement account. The most recent data available, from 2016, show that when blacks owned such assets, they were worth significantly less than assets owned by whites.”
Black businesses are less likely to receive loans, to receive media attention, to receive financial relief, to receive equal opportunities, to receive what they have been tirelessly working for against a system that has been rigged to fail them since the beginning. However, this is not a battle that has been lost, nor is it one that should end at sharing staggering economic inequality statistics. As important as it is to acknowledge and educate oneself with the flawed foundations that black businesses and their owners are attempting to stand on, it is equally important to make strides that will change this narrative. What can we do to support black businesses and ensure that the racial business gap between its white counterparts becomes nonexistent?
It’s right there in the sentence itself: support black businesses. Recognize that black business owners have not been given equal opportunities, but that we, the consumer, are able to shift this in an entirely different direction. A direction that gives said businesses the justice, opportunity, funding and recognition that is long overdue. If you are unable to financially contribute, your role does not hit a wall there. Share these businesses on social media, to your family, to your friends. This is not a phase, this is a call to eradicate inequality that exists within black vs white business culture, and you have the ability to play a direct role in it.
Avery, Taylor, and Samantha Masunaga. “Black-Owned Businesses Face a System Set up against Them. COVID-19 Makes It Worse.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 20 June 2020, www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-06-20/black-owned-business-loans-banks.
Elise Gould, and Valerie Wilson. “Black Workers Face Two of the Most Lethal Preexisting Conditions for Coronavirus-Racism and Economic Inequality.” Economic Policy Institute, 2020, www.epi.org/publication/black-workers-covid/.
Hanks, Angela, et al. “Systematic Inequality.” Center for American Progress, 2018, www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/reports/2018/02/21/447051/systematic-inequality/.
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