Patronizing businesses based upon race in a purportedly post-racial environment
Imagine for a moment that my wife and I, both as white as they come, made a decision between us that from this point forward we would only frequent white-owned businesses. Only buy products from white-owned stores. Only eat dinner at white-owned restaurants.
Then, imagine if Joanna and I decided that, so proud of our commitment to our white heritage, we would tell the world about what we’re doing, and do our very best to start a nationwide movement among fellow white people.
It’s an “empowerment experiment,” we would say, noting that whites have been primary businessowners for so long, but now are forced to increasingly share various markets with minority business owners.
Al Sharpton would be so far up my posterior that I’d be coughing up pinstripes and silk pocket squares. The outrage would be overwhelming. Our children would be ostracized, our employment would be in jeopardy, and Geraldo Rivera would be knocking on our front door.
Yet, when Chicago residents John and Maggie Anderson started a “buy black” movement which could soon see the establishment of a nationwide database of black-owned businesses and encourages the patronization of black-owned businesses at the expense of white-owned ones, we’ve heard nary a peep. No outrage.
“My people have been here for 400 years,” said Maggie Anderson, “and we don’t even have a Walgreens to show for it.”
Well, guess what? You have a president to show for it. The achievement gap, ma’am, is officially closed. If there was a funtional and solid pharmacy-type business enterprise that also happened to be black-owned, there would be a flourishing business of that type. Right now, there is not — but rather than look at the race issue, perhaps focus should be first placed elsewhere.
Forgive me, but I was under the impression that, in the age of Obama, America was to be post-racial. Patronizing businesses and buying products owned and manufactured by one particular race certainly does not sound very post-racial to me. While a certain amount of ethnic pride is certainly understandable–my wife’s Polish family frequents Polish-heavy areas of Philadelphia to purchase specialty and imported foods from Polish-owned markets–there is a difference between searching for unique products and selecting your dry cleaner because he or she is black or white.
How can we ever get past this racial divide in America if so many people go out of their way to widen and exploit it? During this past election, as American politics took on more racial undertones than seen in a long while, I asked why we simply could not judge a politician on his or her merits and experience rather than their skin color; now, I ask the same about businesses — why can’t we judge a particular business on the services it provides and the value it offers rather than the superficial features of those who change the sign from “closed” to “open” every morning?