One day last week I was sitting in Ruby Tuesdays having lunch. I could not help but overhear the gentlemen sitting behind me.
There were three black guys talking about how each of their days was going at work. It was obvious that they were car salesmen at a local dealership.
I heard very clearly one guy say, “Man I don’t understand why the black folks come out here and act like we want to rip them off. They want the white man to help them instead. And boy they just don’t know how that cracker got over on that one deal.”
When I heard that comment, I thought about several small black businesses in Tallahassee.
I asked myself, “Why are they small?” After speaking with several small black business owners, I now know what the problem and the solution is.
The problem is blacks as a whole do not support our businesses. For the sake of convenience and who knows what else, we prefer to give our money to other people. Please do not get offended.
This does not apply to every single black person. I am aware that there are some black businesses that we support faithfully – i.e. beauty and barber salons, but that is not enough.
Furthermore, I interviewed a salesman but for his job security he asked to remain anonymous. “I see it every day. Black folks come here, especially during income tax season, with an attitude and walk right pass you and into the white boys’ arms.”
Is it a trust issue? The gentleman said some black people feel that we are going to rip them off and try to overcharge them. “Well that is exactly what the white man do,” he said.
It’s unfortunate to say that I found several small black business owners who are saying the same thing.
“I make just enough to pay my bills, said Tim Day, owner and founder of Young Fashion & Beauty Supply on the South side.
Day said when he first opened his business he was disappointed. The support was not there from our people he said. Day’s competitors are Q&Q and Eve’s Beauty Supply. Both businesses are owned by Koreans.
“Of course, our people are over there giving them all of their money,” he said. “But we sell the exact same thing at our store and get it from the same people. I don’t understand why we won’t support one another. It’s a real struggle.”
Day is not the only business owner who is struggling to make ends meet.
Una Waters, Southside Diner owner, said, “Plain and simple, black folks don’t support black folks.”
Waters said when they do come, some complain about a $4 chicken sandwich. “But they’ll go and pay $5 at McDonalds and won’t say a word.”
Waters said, “If your own people don’t support you, it would be impossible to survive.”
Blacks should support black businesses. We know it is not easy and everybody has to struggle to some extent.
However, we as a whole should really uplift one another in every way possible. And if that means spending more money on the south side with our people then lets do it.
We are only helping our small black businesses prosper. And what race of people needs prosperity? Black folks.
Kelly Harmon, 22, is a senior newspaper journalism student from Detroit. She can be reached at email@example.com