No one can oppress you unless you give them the money to do it. Let me repeat that — NO one can oppress you unless you give them the money to do it. Buying Black is about recognizing how we are enabling our own oppression and making the decision to stop funding it, at all costs. But sometimes companies — Black, red, yellow, green or white — simply don’t perform up to par. The question is how to respond when that happens. After over a year of supporting a certain Black owned company, I’m calling it quits today.
For every 100 companies selling a certain product or service, perhaps 1 or 2 will be Black owned. On average, Black owned companies are certainly not inferior to anyone but when they don’t meet our expectations, it’s all the more damaging because they might be the only one available! That’s tough. Such was the case with a company I began doing business with well over a year ago. There were problems from day one. Even so, I didn’t stop doing business with them. Why? Despite any problems that may have arisen, no one can convince me that continuing to empower the same people who look at police shootings and say, “no problem there,” is a good strategy for Black people. If we keep doing the same thing, we’ll continue to get the same thing and I’m not interested.
I gave them chances and some more. I complained to management and ownership. I realize that our companies need the space and time to grow and there will always be growing pains. Netflix started out mailing DVDs, Apple started in a garage. Our companies can’t be expected to start out where other juggernauts grew to over decades. We need to have patience and be part of helping our companies grow to that level, not kill them off in their infancy. So I kept complaining, giving my perspective and honestly trying to help the company become better through my feedback. I complained and gave constructive criticism, not because I wanted to tear them down but because I sincerely wanted them to be the best and take over the industry! But that’s where the breakdown arose.
From Google to Starbucks, every — and I mean every — company will simply not perform up to par, somedays. In business there will be mistakes, quality will be lacking and promises not kept — everyone simply has to accept that. If you bake cookies you must know that some batches simply won’t be as sweet. If you cut grass, sometimes the lines won’t be razor straight. It happens. The question is, how will you respond, as a business? The company never responded well. My complaints were generally not handled with urgency. I never got the sense that it mattered to them that I was spending my hard earned money with them and they were not delivering. I never truly felt that they got it. But I stayed, hoping they would respond. They simply never did. Today, after all that time, I have to move on.
I am moving on because I found another Black owned company in the same space. As I said before, nothing can convince me that continuing to give my dollars to people who are comfortable with Black oppression makes sense. I tried well over a year to work it out with the other company and I sincerely wish them well. I can work with a company through mistakes and growing pains, provided they respond well to issues as they arise. When that isn’t happening, over time, I can’t justify continuing to do business with them. Let’s all work with our companies, grow with them and try to help them be their best. Still, it’s up to them to respond to their shortcomings eagerly and with an ethic of service. I looked high and low for a Black owned company to, unfortunately, replace another Black owned company. No matter what, I still choose to buy Black.