Do black people really suppoort each other?

Entrepreneur Zenovia Grant shares her thoughts on the #PullUpOrShutup movement and attitudes towards black-owned businesses.

Culture

As an offshoot to Black Lives Matter, other social media movements have been sparked such as the hashtag #PullUpOrShutUP. This is where large beauty corporations are called upon to publicly share their middle and upper management employment race statistics, highlighting the number of black people employed in the company.

Zenovia Grant
Zenovia Grant

It may or may not come as a surprise to learn the black community has been a huge financial profit pool for these companies. Mintel reports that Black women spent a sizeable $1.7bn on beauty products in the US in 2017 – that’s 8.5 per cent of the market. And yet, where it is OK to take our money, a lot of these top beauty brands fail to employ people of colour.

While I’m in support of the campaign and companies showing transparency, I believe the debate goes on. Rather than point the finger, perhaps we should start by looking within. As a black woman who had her own business, I’ve seen first-hand how the black community is more likely to spend money with other businesses than reinvest in their own.

Running an agency for children with disabilities, I went above and beyond to charge low prices, run extra workshops and provide a first class service. Rather than allowing the work to speak for itself, I was always in a position of having to explain my pricing. On one occasion, I was even asked for a freebie. This infectious mentality of undervaluing and being dubious of one another has to stop otherwise we will never thrive or be a real contender in the world of business.

Finally, with many of our non-black counterparts educating themselves on black history and culture through the vestiges of Non-Optical Allyship – a simple guide on being a supporter of BLM without offending others – perhaps now is the perfect time for us all to reflect.

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