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Shop in your community and watch it grow

A way out of the growing misery in Detroit and other urban centers is found in the report, Resilient, Receptive and Relevant: The African American Consumer 2013 Report, conducted by Nielsen and the Black press organization, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, and reported on in this paper.

The buying power of African Americans would rank us number 16 on a list of nations if we were a separate country. This power sees no signs of slowing down. Black buying power is on the rise; and is expected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2017.  That’s some serious economic clout.  How and where we use it is the real issue. How do we use this to create wealth in our communities?

Detroit entrepreneurs speak about the absence of Black economic power here, noting a sense of community, peoplehood has to bring us together, so the combined power present in our spending gets turned to intelligent spending: building for us, our children and our communities. Other groups spend with each other; we don’t and it shows.

In Michigan’s urban centers, the vote is gone, swept away with emergency management, leaving us with taxation without representation. Those we elected to govern our cities have lost all authority to govern its institutions, as well as the purchasing, contract and hiring powers that reside in government and its institutions. Michigan’s Black communities are already left poorer than before EMs arrived, with fewer employed, less pension and wages flowing and higher costs of living.

The strongest protest we can lodge is to turn to ourselves. Nielsen offers five points to strengthen our economic base:

– Spend within your own neighborhood or community boundaries

– Spend where the employees look like you

– Spend with businesses that advertise to you, with people who look like you, with messages that are important to you

– Engage only with those who present positive images of African Americans in the content they are producing

– Ask yourself before you open your pocketbook, “Can I count on this company to support organizations and causes important to me as an African American?”

These are simple steps. Steps that will strengthen our community, provide jobs for our children and neighbors, build wealth, protect our children and seniors, and ultimately provide a means for us to control our communities. We can’t continue to throw our money away to entities that do not relate to our realities. Growing an economic base means we will, someday, be able to fund candidates who reflect our interests, contribute to campaigns that promise us what our communities need, afford a get-out-the-vote in our interest, and have the political and economical power to fend off state takeovers.

So, if we must spend — and we must — do it within our own communities, as though our lives and livelihoods depends on it – because it does.


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