By Teri Williams
Recently, an Alabama riverboat brawl went viral. It was widely shared on social media and among friends and family through text messages with laughing emojis, memes and commentary.
It was covered by local, national and international press.
There are many reasons the fight went viral and we applauded. We were proud to watch Black folks come to the defense of a Black man who was unjustly under attack.
Due to technology from both phone cameras and social media, we were able to witness the attack — which has historically been hidden from view. Black Twitter (or now #BlackX) was on fire. We could watch the immediate defensive response by Black folks, which made us proud — even those of us who abhor violence.
Our instinct to come together, fight back and defend ourselves is the same underlying stance fueling the #BankBlack and #BuyBlack Movement over the past few years. We are fighting back against systemic racism. We are coming together to support each other and using technology to share opportunities to support Black-owned banks and businesses.
August is Black Business Month, a reminder to recognize the importance of Black businesses across the nation. As the pandemic moves far out of our rearview mirror, let’s check on the status of Black-owned businesses.
Despite many obstacles, Black-owned businesses are surging. According to Nasdaq, Black businesses have increased by 38% since the end of the pandemic. Much of this business resurgence can be attributed to the rise of the Black female entrepreneur. Black women are the fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs in America.
According to research from the Brookings Institute, Black-women-owned businesses increased 18.14% between 2017 and 2020, outperforming women-owned businesses (9.06%) and Black-owned businesses (13.64%). Black-women-owned businesses have risen to 37.2% of all Black-owned businesses in 2020. Yet, there’s still work to be done.
Black Business Month is a wakeup call to prioritize Black business creation, to spend within the Black community and to support young, innovative Black entrepreneurs. It is also time we activated our allies to normalize the #BuyBlack and #BankBlack Movement.
Here are some tips to fight back against systemic racism and support Black owned businesses:
• Shop locally. Use the search term “Black-owned” in Google Maps and you will be presented with a list of locations that identify with the Black-owned badge.
• Use Black business websites and apps. Shop at www.WeBuyBlack.com and use the Official Black Wall Street app, the two largest online platforms connecting consumers to Black-owned businesses. Hire your next Black artist, musician, event videographer, acting talent, and more by visiting BlackTag.com. Open an account at a Black-owned bank by visiting www.BankBlackUSA.com. Book a hotel room from the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers by visiting www.NABHOOD.com.
• Share your knowledge. Support does not always have to be monetary. Refer family and friends to Black-owned businesses. Write a positive review for a Black-owned business that has met your needs. Invest your time, share your expertise and mentor Black business leaders of tomorrow.
• Support leadership that supports us. Let’s activate leadership across private, public, civic and nonprofit sectors to support the economic opportunities of Black businesses and work to remove structural barriers. By addressing disparities and building economic inclusion, we can replace the economic value that a history of racism has cost our nation.
Your support of Black businesses today may create the largest Black-owned businesses of tomorrow.
Teri Williams is the president and chief operating officer of One United Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in the United States.
Black Business Month is a wakeup call to prioritize Black business creation, to spend within the Black community and to support young, innovative Black entrepreneurs.