How The Gig Economy Can Help Black People Become Entrepreneurs

Have you noticed how many Black people are Ubering these days? How about the folks that deliver food or otherwise gig? Does it seem like they are disproportionately Black? Well they are, in fact. There are negatives associated with this new “gig economy” but there is a great silver lining — the gig economy is conditioning more of us to produce for self and become comfortable with the absence of a “stable job.” This reconditioning is actually a perfect segue into entrepreneurship.

The Great Recession came right about the time the gig economy was emerging. The gig economy essentially describes a situation in which people don’t necessarily fit into the traditional model of employment — stable jobs with benefits. People do “gigs” instead, ranging from driving Ubers to freelance consulting. They piece it together, they make it work week to week, somehow. We think of Uber as the ultimate face of the gig economy. Uber, in fact, was launched in 2009, as the Great Recession began to take hold. The gig economy grew up with the Great Recession, they are first cousins.

Today Black folks make up about 18 percent of rideshare drivers, even as Blacks make up only 12 percent of the population. Black unemployment has always been twice that of whites and we’re quite familiar with being last hired and first fired so it makes sense that Blacks are disproportionately represented among contract workers and “giggers.” But it’s time for many of us to turn the corner. If you can gig, you can be an entrepreneur — there’s very little difference. Gigging doesn’t provide a stable or guaranteed check, nor does entrepreneurship. Gigging can be very up and down, as can running a business. Gigging gives you complete control over your earnings; if you deliver pizzas all day long you’ll make way more than someone who just comes out for a few hours and so it is in entrepreneurship.

Although the Great Recession has officially been declared over, the old normal is still just a fantasy, for many people. Many of you (including the author) gig. More than likely, this was not your first choice: circumstances made it such that you pretty much had to. But this new normal is forcing you to be comfortable with things you weren’t comfortable with in years past. If you’ve come this far, why not go the rest of the way? If you’re already used to not knowing how much you’ll make each week, why not live with the same uncertainty, with the upside being you get wealthy and not the rideshare company? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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