In every Black economic circle or discussion, I often hear the chatter. Consistently, I hear the murmurings and often receive angry emails about Black businesses who choose to market their products to a “general market” instead of only a Black market.
Some ask, “Why aren’t there only images of our people on this seller’s site or product?” I calmly respond, “because obviously the seller isn’t attempting to only sell to our people.” Others say, “This is the type of self hatred that keeps us back as a people,” yet I respond, “No, this is the lack of understanding towards business and marketing that keeps us back as a people.”
Admittedly, I too once questioned the integrity of “general marketing” until I stopped and thought logically and emotionlessly. Blacks are economically disenfranchised not because we market or sell to other races but because we don’t buy from ourselves. Thus, buying Black is the mandatory component of successful community economics while choosing to market and sell to everyone is simply good business. Here are 3 Reasons Why…..
1. Some Goods or Services Aren’t Exclusively Black
It amazes me how sometimes we assume that Black businesses are capable of creating products or services that only Blacks can consume. Even though we're learning daily about Black pioneers who were the first to perform open heart surgery, invent the toilet, the elevator and potato chips (just to name a few), somehow we still fail to realize the full potential of what we create. Although all of these ideas and profits have been stolen from the original Black pioneers, the "general marketabilty" of each product or service they created is undeniable.
Some Black businesses are committed to selling "Black" items only like hair care and beauty products. And that commitment is remarkable; these businesses fill glaring needs in our community that non-Black businesses have been meeting for decades. However, there are many Black businesses who sell popcorn, watches, toothpaste, and juices that can be purchased and consumed by anybody. So why get upset if these businesses choose to market to anybody? Why limit selling your popcorn to only Black theatres when it's good enough to be in every theatre??? Is it because your pro-Black, or anti-green? Let's continue on and see....
2. Wealth 101: The More People You Market To, The More Product You Sell
The #1 purpose of any business is to make a profit. PERIOD. Now, of course, ALL MONEY AINT GOOD MONEY but please understand that ALL MONEY AINT BAD MONEY either. There must be balance in business and more specifically, in Black businesses. That balance consists of 1.) a commitment to cultural integrity (not selling out, neglecting, abandoning or refusing their Blackness for profit) and 2.) smart business moves. As an entrepreneur, I know the smartest business move is to not make a move until you 1st conduct research. Once again if you sell popcorn and your research tells you that Hispanic people are the biggest consumers of popcorn in America, why would you put an image of only a Black person on the box. While it screams of commendable cultural integrity, it would also be an awful business move. Business is a game of chess and we have simply been playing checkers for far too long. Don't Believe Me? Read On...
3. Take a Look At The Businesses We've Made Rich
The marketability and exploitation of Blacks in entertainment, fashion and beauty in today's society is inescapable. Most major industries are owned and controlled by White execs who produce goods or services that they want to sell to Black people but simply don't how to do so. Thus, they need our help! So record companies give contracts to Black artists to get to Black music consumers and sneaker companies give signature shoes to Black Athletes for the same reason fashionwise.
Nike, in particular, has brilliantly mastered what many of us would call "self hatred." Although its execs are 90% White, Nike has managed to make hundreds of Black athletes and entertainers the face of their products over the past 30 years while modestly pocketing billions. I seriously doubt that anyone in White America has an issue with Nike execs strategically using the images of Blacks to cement their wealth yet we somehow scoff at Black businesses who try to employ the same strategy.
Contrary to popular belief, selling White or any other color isn't always selling out. Depending on the product or service, it can certainly be classified as selling smart. It's up to us to weigh our cultural integrity with sound research and make the best business and consumer decisions.