Did you know August is National Black Business Month? In 2004, Frederick E. Jordan and John William Templeton started this annual month-long event of recognition to, “drive the policy agenda affecting the 2.6 million African-American businesses.”
That 2.6 million became 3.2 million based on 2018 numbers from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Black small business ownership and entrepreneurship have long been an integral part of the U.S. economy – dating back to the 1700s! Yes, even, then, some free and enslaved Black people had businesses. Did you know that!
This backdrop is one of the many reasons why I have such a visceral reaction to the sentiments of “anti-capitalism.” And I’m not shy about saying so, either, including most recently as a guest on Tara Newman’s podcast that went live a few weeks ago – click here if you’d like to check it out.
Yes, I am fully aware of the flaws and hypocrisy of capitalism. I’m aware of the intersection of systemic racism and capitalism. Yes, some companies, both large and small, abuse our economic system by skirting taxes and prioritizing profits over everything else – to name a few.
And yet…even with all its flaws, how can I oppose an economic system that enabled my ancestors to create thriving lives for their families and communities —against incredible odds, too?!
Or, that enables my peers and me to do the same in the 21st century.
Under what other type of economic system can a private citizen decide to open and operate their own company and yield a large degree of autonomy over how they finance their livelihood and build their wealth?
I’ve yet to see an answer to this question from supporters of anti-capitalism.
Should we hold big, multinational corporations and tech firms that behave badly accountable when they do things like pollute our water, violate our privacy, or knowingly produce unsafe products? Absolutely! But in my opinion, the response to these deeds isn’t anti-capitalism.
The response is, in part, via legislative and regulatory policies.
This is one of the reasons Mr. Jordan and Mr. Templeton launched National Black Business Month eighteen years ago. To center the question: What policies are government officials and community leaders pushing for and enacting to address the structural barriers that Black businesses across the country often face – whether it’s the neighborhood mom-n-pop or tech start-up or other types of businesses in between? (Another reason voting rights matter, folks!)
Additionally, great care needs to be taken to not paint such broad strokes when it comes to the anti-capitalism conversation.
Here’s why, and it is something I’ve shared before (most recently when talking about Juneteenth): U.S. small businesses employ approximately 57 million people; Fortune 500 companies employ approximately 28 million people.
Per the Small Business Administration, they account for about 44% of the economic activity. And per the numbers I just shared above, they employ twice as many people as larger businesses.
So, when talk of anti-capitalism surfaces, three things immediately come to mind for me:
First, do those who adopt this view really want small businesses and entrepreneurs to pay the price for something they usually aren’t responsible for having done? Sure, they may employ more people, but they certainly don’t have the scale to do the misdeeds that trigger the backlash to capitalism.
Second, do those who adopt this view believe my peers and I don’t have a right to take the risk of starting and building a (hopefully) viable business? If so, this doesn’t sit well with me. At all.
Third, it’s interesting to me that the anti-capitalism rhetoric seems to be increasing right when more Black women are pursuing entrepreneurship. In fact, we are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs. According to USA Facts, “The number of businesses owned by Black women grew 50% from 2014 to 2019, representing the highest growth rate of any female demographic.” Are those who are anti-capitalism paying attention to facts like these?
This sentiment can have a devastating effect on existing Black-owned small businesses, and stymie the launch of new enterprises that will likely play a key role in building wealth for Black families.
I often say, there are three key ways to build wealth: own a business, invest in the stock market, and own income-producing real estate. A business is the one you have the most direct control over and is what will move the needle with regard to trimming the racial wealth gap.
For me, National Black Business Month is about celebration, consumerism (buying with intention), advocacy, and giving thanks!
I absolutely love the body of work I’ve been able to create. And as you might imagine, more than 20+ years in, the journey has not been without its challenges.
But, wow, what an absolute blessing it is to even have an option to own a company, to work with my clients (past, current, future) helping to shape how money affects their lives and their businesses, and to serve them in my own unique way. This is what capitalism is for me. It is why I have more than 3.2 million reasons to support capitalism.
So, this month and at all times, thank you for supporting this Black-owned business! #iamgrateful