Join Club

Community Matters: Black Businesses Matter

Community Matters is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

While the Black community has experienced disproportionate deaths as a result of COVID-19, the pandemic has left us all with clarity about the lack of value of Black Americans to the larger society.

Until 1865, Black bodies, minds and souls were an official currency in our capitalist society. The remnants of the peculiar institution of slavery, which exist today in the form of institutional racism, may be withering away slowly. Yet today, there is more energy from white Americans to demand change, including, more support for our lives and our businesses.

If you are not Black, why should Black businesses matter to you? Aside from wanting to support a more racially just society, and benefit from additional diversity as a consumer, frankly, it becomes more difficult over time for whites to segregate from Blacks. Black families are disproportionately living in poverty, and poverty creates a number of social problems, which affect us all.

Last week I moderated a virtual panel discussion on economic empowerment in the Black community. The panelists further elaborated on several important issues and barriers critical to Black economic empowerment.

Fear — African Americans have often been discouraged from entrepreneurship, even as a “side hustle”, due to the risk and lack of access to capital. COVID-19 is an excellent example of when additional income sources would have been helpful to a population that was largely out of work due to social distancing restrictions. Consider encouraging Blacks who are proficient in an area to pursue business training and start a business.

Business Directories — Business directories which highlight Black businesses are necessary. As Randy Philip, owner of the Washington Insurance Consulting Group and one of the cofounders of the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce noted quite simply, “We can’t support them if we don’t know who they are.” Race blind initiatives may result in policies and ideologies which prevent us from knowing who to support. If you know of a Black-owned business, share them with ARLnow.com to be listed in this directory of Arlington Black businesses.

Preparing Youth/Role Models — All of the panelists agreed that preparing our youth was critical to encouraging entrepreneurship in the Black community. The Arlington Chamber of Commerce recently shared this blog post by Eshauna Smith from the Urban Alliance on the importance of supporting future entrepreneurs. “You can’t be what you can’t see” is a common refrain used when encouraging any unrepresented population to excel. We should connect Black youth with entrepreneurs for internships and encourage Black entrepreneurs to speak at career days and other youth events.

Chambers of Commerce — Some Black entrepreneurs may find value in joining several chambers or affinity groups of more traditional chambers. I applaud the Arlington Chamber of Commerce for supporting the US Chamber of Commerce’s National Summit on Equality of Opportunity where leaders from across the private and public sectors will discuss solutions to some of the underlying challenges driving inequality of opportunity for Black Americans including employment and entrepreneurship. We should all respect the desire for Black entrepreneurs to grow their business through these channels, and support efforts to build these organizations and support all Chambers.

Buy Black Days/Weeks — While these isolated efforts are helpful, more should be done to market Black businesses all year. As consumers and contractors, we can make a conscious effort to “Buy Black” after the protests have stopped. If we are in a position to promote businesses, we should intentionally diversify our lists.  Contractors should actively pursue qualified Black subcontractors and purchasing agents should exceed minimum diversity standards and push to raise the minimum quotas.

Training/Mentoring – The panelists noted that some Black business owners are experts at their craft and less proficient in the operations of a business. We need even more support for existing business training programs, including BizLaunch, and increased outreach to Black business owners through these programs.

The immediate response to focused efforts on the Black population are often met with, “I had to work hard for what I have, so should you.” I am not sure there is a more obvious way to prove that systemic racism is alive and well in the United States than continually seeing the murder of Black people on TV and online. Racism is a function of several factors including our skewed system of capitalism. After centuries of being devalued, it is our collective responsibility to actively value Black people. When you raise your voice or do your part for Black economic empowerment, you uplift a whole nation.

Krysta Jones has lived in Arlington since 2004 and is active in local politics and civic life. This column is in no way associated with or represents any person, government, organization or body — except Krysta herself.

Recent Stories

Morning Notes

Pentagon City Rotating Restaurant Reopens — “Skydome, a unique rotating restaurant, has reopened atop the DoubleTree by Hilton Crystal City Hotel in Arlington. The restaurant, which closed during the COVID-19…

Good Thursday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 21133 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…

This past week saw 22 homes sold in Arlington. The least expensive condo, single-family home or townhouse sale over the past seven days was $275,000 while the most expensive was…

Many parents of children at Key Elementary School are outraged at the way a possible threat of gun violence by a student was handled by administrators.

The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.

The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.

Former participants have this to say:

_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Learn about the new assessment of Arlington’s urban tree canopy and the many ecological and social benefits trees provide. Staff from the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) will share study results and compare canopy cover for different areas of Arlington.The webinar will include assessments of ecosystem services such as stormwater mitigation, air quality, carbon uptake, and urban heat islands. For background on Arlington trees see the “Tree Benefits: Growing Arlington’s Urban Forest” presentation at http://www.gicinc.org/PDFs/Presentation_TreeBenefits_Arlington.pdf.

Please register in advance to assure your place at the webinar, https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/29543206508863839.

About the Arlington County Civic Federation: The Arlington County Civic Federation (“ACCF”) is a not-for-profit corporation which provides a forum for civic groups to discuss, debate, inform, advocate and provide oversight on important community issues, on a non-partisan basis. Its members include over ninety civic groups representing a broad cross-section of the community. Communications, resolutions and feedback are regularly provided to the Arlington County Government.

The next meeting is on Tuesday, February 21,2023 at 7 pm. This meeting is open to the public and will be hybrid, in-person and virtually through Zoom. Part of the agenda will be a discussion and vote on a resolution “To Restore Public Confidence in Arlington County’s Governance”. For more information on ACCF and this meeting, go to https://www.civfed.org/.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Valentine Pop-Up at George Mason University

Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village

Standup Comedy Showcase Starring Matt Ruby (Comedy Central)

Dead Horse Comedy Productions brings together top comedians from the DMV and beyond for a live standup comedy show!

Matt Ruby, Headliner

Matt Ruby is a comedian, writer, and filmmaker from New York City. His comedy has been filmed by

×

Subscribe to our mailing list