Black-owned businesses have practically vanished over the past 30 years.
Many see Black-owned business as something local and insignificant. This World-War II era picture (originally displayed in the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.) is for you. It shows a mini parachute manufactured by the Black-owned Pacific Parachute Company, home to one of the nation’s first racially integrated production plants.
Black Enterprise magazine has created the BE 100s, the magazine’s annual ranking of the nation’s top 100 Black-owned businesses. This year World Wide Technology has made to the top of the list. The company found in 1990, has grown into a global firm with more than $7 billion in revenue and 3,000 employees. The other leaders included Radio One, whose 55 radio stations fan out among 16 national markets and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions.
Unfortunately, the detailed analysis reveals that these pioneering companies are the exception to a far more alarming trend. During the last 30 years, many Black-owned independent businesses and financial institutions have collapsed.
Only 23 of 60 Black-owned banks which were providing financial services to their communities in 1985 have survived until today. Of the 50 Black-owned insurance companies that operated during the 1980s, today just two remain.
The same tendency is observed in every sphere. As a result working-age, Black Americans have almost no chance of becoming be their own bosses. The per-capita number of Black employers, for example, declined by some 12 percent just between 1997 and 2014.
From 2007 to 2012, for example, the number of Black-owned businesses in the NY city declined by more than 30%.
The decline of Black-owned independent businesses is caused by many reasons traces back to many causes. One of them is the fact that the Black community is becoming a smaller percentage of the overall city population and as a result plays less role in its life. For example, while making 22% of the city’s population, Black New Yorkers now own just 3% of local businesses.
The other very serious reason is the decline in the enforcement of anti-monopoly and fair-trade laws beginning in the late 1970s. Monopolism literally violates the rights of small retailers and institutions depriving them of the possibility of starting and maintaining an independent business. That is why the fight for the Black-owned business only starts with buying Black then it goes further to the level of Civil Rights Activism and legislative initiative.