Recently, a video went viral after Andy Foster (an African American customer) recorded Amin Chaudry (the owner of Ben Hill Custom Cleaners) being rude and making racist statements. In the video, you hear Mr. Foster asking the owner questions like, “Are you prejudice?”, and Amin responding, “Yes”, several times. Amin is also recorded in the video saying, “YOU PEOPLE [referring to black people] are more prejudice than anyone else!” Regardless if you think he is racist or not, you have to agree that his customer service is horrible. Using profanity or making racist comments towards paying customers should never be accepted or tolerated in our community.
Immediately after the video was uploaded, it didn’t take long for it to pick up traction and spark an uproar in the community about the business owner’s behavior. Within hours, the video had thousands of views, hundreds of comments, and countless amounts of shares on social media. Shaun King – a well known supporter of #BlackLivesMatter – even posted the owners Yelp page which resulted in several bad reviews and a 1 out of 5 star rating. Since the incident occurred, community members have gathered outside of Ben Hill Custom Cleaners to address the issue and demand a change.
Although I believe the owner was wrong, I am not shocked or mad at his behavior. I am more appalled that we as a community have allowed him to stay in our neighborhood this long. I am very excited about us standing up for our dignity and speaking out against this disrespectful business owner in our community, but I also know that there are many more business owners like Amin who feel the same way about black people. However, we continue to faithfully pay their bills every month. How does a prejudiced person become a successful business owner in the middle of one of the blackest neighborhoods in Atlanta, Georgia? Instead of us standing in front of Ben Hill Custom Cleaners trying to keep people out, let’s stand in front of Ponder’s Dry Cleaners (a black-owned dry cleaners that’s been operating for 45 years) and help Mr. Rod bring customers in! We must #SpendDifferent and go out of our way to support black-owned businesses!
Who are the owners of this establishment? Do they look like me? Do they hire people who look like me? Most importantly do they value and respect the people who look like me? These are questions that we as conscious consumers must begin to ask ourselves before we carelessly support businesses in our community. Anna Lappe once said “Every time you spend money, you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” Who are you voting for with your dollars?
If we are going to create change in our community, we have to begin to focus on supporting our own a lot better. I’m not mad at any racist business owner who moves in our community and gets rich. However, I am mad that we continue to allow them to do it. We have done a poor job patronizing our own businesses. This is why 8 out of 10 black-owned businesses are failing within their first 18 months of launching. Out of the $1.3 trillion dollars that we spend every year, statistics show that black-owned businesses only receive 3% of that. It is because of these and several other alarming statistics that my co-founder Antwon Davis and I work so hard to build Spendefy.
Spendefy is a digital platform that connects black-owned businesses to conscious consumers. We make it easy for conscious consumers to discover, connect, and support local black-owned businesses in their city. We are challenging the shallow myths that claim black-owned businesses can not, will not, and do not operate professionally by helping our users discover black-owned businesses online, where they live, and where they work. Our ultimate goal is to unveil quality black-owned businesses who lack exposure and support in the city of Atlanta.
Do you need a black-owned dry cleaners? Restaurant? Clothing store? Law firm? Coffee shop? Dentist? Accountant? Gym? Visit Spendefy.com to discover, connect, and support a black-owned businesses near you!