I was not surprised at all to read about the shunning of Black-owned businesses for their contributions to the revitalization efforts in Detroit by mainstream media. Were you? As noted within the article, African-American business owners expressed their displeasure with being left out of the reporting of the resurgence of Detroit. “I think, for the most part, black-owned businesses are not getting a piece of the pie,” bookstore owner Janet Jones told The Huffington Post. “What about people who have been doing the hard work of living and working and having business in Detroit for the last 20 years?”
I am pretty certain there is nothing “quiet” about the continuous sustenance and persistence of the numerous Black entrepreneurs in the Motor City. Positive interests can be ignored, despite the numerous efforts and developments of those who chose to take matters into their own hands and keep pushing to contribute to their neighborhoods and its growth. Again, the fact that particular news outlets failed to adequately report on these businesses that have exemplified fortitude does not surprise me in the least bit. The New York Times was called out in June for their “Pesky Habit of Whitewashing Detroit’s Revitalization,” which in turn led to a more “universal” depiction of the growth efforts currently taking place in Detroit in a later article, but what are WE, as young African-Americans, doing to promote and foster growth of the Black-owned businesses in our own communities?
Grassroots organizations and efforts, such as A Black Life, have taken the charge by seeking to connect millions of consumers with their verified lists of dependable and quality owned Black businesses throughout the United States. Founded in 2011 to create a unique marketing experience for Black-owned businesses, this group of Howard University Alum, a few of which are actual Detroit natives, recognize the importance of spotlighting and praising those who give back and invest into our communities. Additionally, media outlets targeting the African-American demographic have always supported Black-owned businesses, both during hard times such as the recession, and also during the slow, yet steady, growth period that is currently taking place.
Despite the credit given to younger transplants, and the gentrified-esque pomp and circumstance that comes along with this “new wave” of business to Detroit, it’s OUR responsibility to highlight, support, encourage and report the factual nature of what is contributing to the growth of our neighborhoods, cities, states and country. This not only includes patronizing the small businesses, but also referring others to them as well. “Mainstream media” has never been the first trustworthy authority on authentic reporting of our neighborhoods, so why the uproar now?
If we no longer want to be left out of the conversations surrounding what is bringing “us” back, then we need to get busy telling the stories, and supporting the businesses.
To further the sentiments of the Huffington Post, we offer kudos and congratulations to the entrepreneurs highlighted:
- Hamilton Anderson Associates – http://www.hamilton-anderson.com/
- Textures by Nefertiti – http://texturesbynef.com/
- Detroit Vegan Soul – http://detroitvegansoul.com/
- Ali Sandifer Studio – http://www.alisandifer.com/
- Thrift on Avenue – https://www.facebook.com/pages/THRIFT-on-the-AVE/148205965386399
- Sweet Potato Sensations – http://www.sweetpotatosensations.com/
- Hair Wars – http://www.hairwarsustour.com/
- Detroit Dirt – http://detroitdirt.org/
- Source Booksellers – http://www.sourcebooksdetroit.com/
- Social Club Grooming Company – https://www.facebook.com/TheSocialClubDetroit
- Woodward Garden Block Development – http://www.modeldmedia.com/developmentprojects/woodwardgardens0712.aspx
- Savvy Chic – http://www.savvychiceasternmarket.com/
- Nnamdi Center for Contemporary Art – http://nnamdicenter.org/
Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com. She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.
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