I used to work in Metro Atlanta and noticed that the quality of businesses in the black community was lacking. It was both difficult and more expensive to run errands on my lunch break, as I was forced to patronize stores such as CVS, Walgreens, and Family Dollar whose prices can oftentimes be considerably higher depending on the product. Furthermore, data has shown that these prices can sometimes be as much as 49% higher than those of supermarkets. The black communities, I notice, are polluted with fast food restaurants, convenient/liquor stores, and Family Dollars. I have never seen Whole Foods or even the popular food chain Chipotle in black communities.
The lack of quality businesses and limited modes of transportation mean that those who reside in low-income urban communities are involuntarily made to shop at local convenient stores, where access to fresh produce is significantly limited. Dillard stated that, “black and poor communities are food deserts. Meaning, little to no access to quality food; calorie dense food devoid of nutrients.” By definition, a food desert is “a location where residents have to travel twice as far to get to the nearest supermarket as their peers in wealthier parts of town.” This translates to higher diabetes rates, obesity, and other diet related illnesses in the black community.
It can go without saying that our urban black communities are in unfair predicaments concerning access to quality businesses. However, this predicament presents itself as an opportunity for the rise of black-owned businesses in the black community. We see that there is a need, so let’s charge ourselves with the responsibility of providing the solution. If we as blacks start to control the money within our communities, then we can control what happens in our neighborhoods. There is no reason as to why we cannot own gas stations, invest in real estate, or open supermarkets to ensure that our communities have access to healthier eating options.
To change the circumstances faced in poor urban communities, it’s time for African Americans to practice group economics. Plainly stated, that is the goal of Spendefy, to connect black-owned businesses to conscious consumers. Conscious can be defined as “being aware of and responding to one’s surrounding”. How many of us will respond to the need that lingers in our black community? Richardson stated that, “the key to financial success might lie in unity, a willingness to patronize black-owned businesses.” If we own the supermarkets, gas stations and other businesses, then that puts us in position to hire people from the community; which puts food on plates, clothes on backs, and money in the pockets of those who look like us and need the opportunity.
Other ethnic groups have been successful by maintaining their cultural identity versus choosing to assimilate. Richardson shared that because of this type of attitude, “not only are they [other ethnic groups] able to take a measure of pride in being a closed society, but they are simultaneously able to keep capital in their communities and thereby build an array of flourishing financial institutions.” In addition to changing the way we spend, let’s change the dynamics of our black community; let’s become entrepreneurs.