Mind Your Business

Mind Your Business Week of August 6, 2014

Where are the Black businesses in our community?

Cleveland stands to see an influx of money with the Republican National Convention, the return of LeBron James and the Opportunity Corridor project. But, my concern is how will Blacks benefit financially? Buying Black is something we have never seemed to get a handle on and maintain. In past columns, I have written about the 70’s when there were a lot of Blacks businesses such as the Fly Shop, Kings Men and Boot ‘n Shoe. After all these years, only one nice Black clothing store remains; Rhett’s, owned by Les King who has seen times change and money leave the Black community. Blacks have a buying power of over $1 trillion dollars and could use those dollars to support other Black businesses. We need some organizations to help teach and educate about how powerful our Black dollar is and learn to keep it in our own community. Riding through some Black neighborhoods, all corner stores are now owned by people of other ethnic backgrounds. Black Clevelander need to come to grips and think about how they can benefit from each other, not sit around and expect money to fall from the sky into their lap. While working at the bank, I remember Networking Guru George Fraser, chairman and CEO of FraserNet Inc., come in to talk about a conference he planned to do every year. It was good to see Don Graham and the bank buy in. And, for a few years, Fraser held his PowerNetworking Conference in Cleveland. But just like most things, Cleveland did not get behind him and support it. Now, it’s still done every year but somewhere else. This PowerNetworking conference draws thousands of Black businessmen and women for a weekend of training and networking as does Black Enterprise, which holds yearly conferences to bolster and educate Black entrepreneurs. With $330 million coming into Black communities with the Opportunity Corridor, what are some of the great things coming after they wipe out all the houses and businesses? Hopefully, the people who are at the table will get things that will benefit the Black community they represent. When I was growing up, we had everything in our neighborhood: banks, grocery store, butcher shop, drug store, movie theaters, barber shop, hardware store and corner store. Now you have to drive out of the Black community to go see a movie and butcher shops to name a few. In Chicago, National Black Wall Street has partnered with the city treasurer’s office in a campaign to help 1,000 children open savings accounts at a local bank. Instead of giving them PlayStation, give them library cards and take time to explain they are our future and we must make a change. It’s sad to see that we can’t come together and have our own Black bank, an African American Museum that’s open for business, a Black Chamber of Commerce that will stay open and a developed African American Cultural Garden. Over the years, reports haves shown that, when people have jobs, crime is down. I am happy when I see a business open in the Black community and hire everyone in the neighborhood. Cleveland isn’t different than Tulsa was when a mob shut down their Black businesses and attacked many. The only different here is they are just railroading over us to make us think we are not worthy enough or smart enough to spend our dollar with ourselves. The Tulsa Race Riot was a large-scale, racially motivated conflict on May 31 and June 1, 1921, in which Whites attacked the Black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It resulted in the Greenwood District, also known as ‘the Black Wall Street’ and the wealthiest Black community in the United States, being burned to the ground. During the 16 hours of the assault, more than 800 Blacks were admitted to local White hospitals with injuries (the Black hospital was burned down). Police arrested and detained more than 6,000 Black Greenwood residents at three local facilities, in part for their protection. Where are the Black businesses in our community? Most cities have a Little Italy, Chinatowns, Jewish community but nothing Black. A couple of years ago, I had a chance to spend time with Author Maggie Anderson. She shared the hardships she encountered when trying to buy Black for a year. Anderson talked about her struggle to find a Black diaper service and other things in her area. Is this project we can do? Can some organizations like the President’s Council invest in a Black hotel or bank? Think on these things and let’s support the Black business in our own community.

Enjoy your summer and remember to mind your business.

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Write Wade at the Call & Post, 11800 Shaker Blvd., Cleveland, OH 44120, or e-mail him at jwade@call-post.com. Comments and questions are welcome but, because of the volume of mail, personal responses are not always possible. Please note that comments or questions may be used in a future column.