Are We Consumers or Peddlers
How often have you heard or even said you would never hire a Black company
to do anything for you. The myriad of rational commence with, they are too
lazy or they take too long. Black firms are too impressed with themselves,
and make too many mistakes. Their pricing is too high, and they don't give
you the service you expect.
pathetic truth is that all of those statements and feelings are true. I
have never hired a white roofer that when he was finished with my roof, it
didn't leak. I have never engage a white contractor whose professionalism
was so great, they always finished the project on time. I'm forever
impressed with white businesses since of humility. They never give me the
impression of being better than I.
have you walked into a white Business that had Black management and you were
treated like you weren't important. You notice the laziness of the
workers. You see that Black manager walking around acting like he/she is a
God, and they always act as if you are a lessor creature. Forever quoting
policy and acting holier than thou.
I'm confronted with a White manager, I'm always treated like I matter. I'm
never patronized, the red carpet is laid out for me. When I venture into
Orange County I never see lazy good for nothing employees. The white
manager is always humble and congenial with me. You know what, I don't mind
telling that Black manager or Black business owner about that either.
is not fueled with hate, but fueled with frustration. The frustration of
watching my people sell themselves short. Rather than being consumers of
goods and services, we have become merchants of our sovereignty. We have
sold our economic power. Businesses of every ethnicity has grabbed a firm
hold of our community, except businesses owned by Blacks.
hand we carry the Kente cloth we adorn ourselves in, and in the other hand
we hold a huge magnifying glass to scrutinize ourselves. We have placed
much pressure of perfection on our own Black businesses and managers that we
have caused them to go out of business.
magnifying glass we have looked for faults rather than to seek answers. We
neglect to search for understanding. Why is it we are willing to dismiss a
Black business or businessman for their lake of perfection. We'll defer a
Whites, Hispanics or Asians lack of perfection and will accept
our own people up to a much higher degree of scrutiny. We don't allow our
own people to make mistakes or have flaws. At the first sign of deficiency
we'll dismiss our own. We instantly throw up our hands and say, "That's
what you get for dealing with Black folk!"
will continue to make rich. We allow ourselves to receive poor treatment,
higher prices, and less care to detail. It doesn't take a rocket scientist
to figure out we wont receive the same treatment from a contractor or
retailer working in our community, as that same contractor or retailer would
give in their own community.
than condemning the Black business owner, we should ask the question why.
Why does the Black contractor cost more than the White or Hispanic
contractor. The answer is purely economics. Where as the White or Hispanic
contractor can work for a Black client, they can just as easily obtain jobs
without difficulty in any other community.
contractor is usually confined to his own community for work. Black
contractors meet with great impediment when trying to obtain work in
Hispanic or White communities. Because they perform less jobs, Black
contractors find buying materials more costly.
it's putting on a roof or cutting your grass the Hispanic or White
businessman will have no problem making a profit from the many communities
they can service with relative ease. The Black businessman will have a hard
time making a living let alone a profit, with his limited resources, purely
because of the color of his skin.
holds true with retailers. Most Black owned retailers have to fight with
the same obstacles as higher prices in distribution. They often pay higher
rents, and far too often have to live with limitations of where they can
establish their business.
management within white owned retail establishments are often placed in
their positions solely because of the color of their skin. Not to take away
from their abilities, but you have to understand the blatant yet subliminal
racism that occurs in the placement of Black management within white
powers within a corporation feel the only way to manage and service our
community in with a Black manager. Considering we are such animals the only
way to tame us is with a Black person. Those same white powers never
consider the qualifications of the individual just the color.
than not the Black managers you see are the best and most dedicated
management that chain has. Still they are only allowed to work in Black
communities. Very seldom are they allowed the opportunity to manage outside
their own communities.
do Black managers have to put up with the obstacles of raciest upper
management, they have to endure that magnifying glass. They are called
"Uncle Toms" by their employees for doing the job they are paid to do. They
are battered by us the consumer who expects to be treated somehow
differently because we are Black and the manager is Black.
If we are
not satisfied with the Black manager, we have no trouble going over his head
to find a white man to tell us the same thing the Black manager said. Only
then are we satisfied. Then we have the audacity to go back to the Black
manager and tell him/her "I hope I didn't get you in trouble."
we give a white manager the opportunity to appear as a hero by satisfying
our complaint, which in most cases is an unwarranted complaint. This give
that white manager more power over the Black manager. We then say, "I
didn't mean to get you into trouble but..." Divide and conquer.
As we look
through out our community we see Asian, Hispanic, Whites and a myriad of
others taking hold of the economic power. What do we get in return? Do we
get better service? I say not. Do we get better selection? I say not. Do
we get better quality than we would get from our own? Again I say not! At
lease do we get a better price? No!
do get is more inquiries about our ability to pay. We gain more security.
More eyes are watching us from fear of our steeling. More armed guards to
protect the shop owner from the barbaric animals we are. More gates and
bars to keep the likes of us out when the business is closed. We get strip
malls rather than elaborate plazas.
As we use
that magnifying glass to put our own people out of business, the others are
laughing their way to the bank. How many Korean shop or gas station owners
are contributing to the United Negro College Fund with the profits they make
from us? How many Hispanic gardeners, contractors or grocery store owners
subscribe to Ebony, Upscale, or Emerge magazines. How many Black
playwrights, artist, and writers benefit from the profits of white owned
business provide more to the community than by taking our money for goods
and services. Black business recycle dollars back to the community in many
more ways than we realize. We should expect no less nor no more from our
own than we expect form anyone else. We should however give more
consideration. One thing to remember, if you take that magnifying glass and
Blacken one side it becomes a mirror.
originally appeared in THE NEW JOURNAL & GUIDE. Copyright 1997,
Christopher D. Odom