Buy Black, But Don’t Lower Your Expectations


Do you ever wonder why Hollywood makes comedy’s about the “Black” way of life? Hollywood mocks our path; we must take it very seriously.

After having a great meal at a local Black-owned-and-operated restaurant, I decided to go home and watch a DVD movie. The movie, Undercover Brother, a Universal, Imagine Entertainment release staring comedian Eddie Griffin, was about the on-again off-again struggles of the Black man’s effort to build an infrastructure within today’s society that provides growth, wealth and independence.

Originally published in Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, 9/19/2007

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The goal of the Undercover Brother was to hinder the efforts of “The Man” (the White man) from sabotaging the wealth, growth and independence of the Black race in America. The DVD was a comedy.

My point? For many years, we as a people have neglected to follow the path of growth and independence, settling for levels of comfort and the state of “I’m good where I’m at” without taking risks to enlighten, speaking up, and actively problem-solving within the community by not just talking but taking action!

The score: “The Man” one, us zero.
The path includes education and employment with the focus of solidarity to form a cohesive base of knowledge and advice that is passed on to the next generation of Black business professionals. Look around and ask yourself, “What have I done to further the positive outcomes of a people? Have I spent one dollar at a Black business?”

Black people have a style that is unique, equipped with the power of design, elegance, and knowing what we need and when — always skewing to high expectations. This internal, natural ability is a part of our DNA makeup always tested in our day-to-day life, more so than other races.

There’s a flip side about spending with Black business; I will use my own personal experiences from New York City, Denver, Seattle, and of course Minneapolis.

If I want to take my family out to eat at a Black-owned-and-operated establishment, first of all I must try to find one. Upon arriving, I’m set back when I walk in and find myself ignored (which also happens at too many White-owned restaurants). The server is hooked on Ebonics and has the attitude of Satan himself, and the food does not meet any of my expectations.

Why should I be expected to lower my expectations just because it’s a Black-owned establishment? I don’t lower my expectation at J.D. Hoyt or Applebee’s.

When I shop for clothing, which I dread, I try to make the time spent in any clothing store short and to the point. I’m truly sorry, Mr. Black clothier, that on my path to wealth, growth and independence I must wear suits and ties with black dress shoes to strategically blend in and take my “unfair share” in White Corporate America while maintaining the reputation that I am the best at what I do when I do it.

Mr. Black clothier, I can’t wear this orange shirt, orange pants with orange shoes and hat — it’s just not me. Your jeans have words on them like Rocawear, Murder, Inc., and images of Fat Albert.

Hey, I was a fat kid who was teased and called “Fat Albert.” Didn’t I tell you that I’m on this path, a path that in some cases has to be in stealth mode? There is a saying: “Don’t let them see you coming.” If I went to a business meeting where I was to meet with a group of businessmen, in most cases all White men, I would be putting myself in a position of self-placed economic stupidity just by wearing your clothes, Mr. Black clothier.

In Minnesota, where racism is more covert than in-your-face, you could imagine the thoughts in that business meeting: “Who does he think he is, Snoop Doggy-Cat?” In some cases, wearing the clothing that is marketed to Black men is a prime example of how “The Man” economically disenfranchises us through our appearance.

How do we attempt to solve these problems with Black businesses? Complain with constructive criticism while being cordial and diplomatic. If we go to a White restaurant and the steak we order is medium rather than well done, we don’t hesitate to complain about the steak or service.

We need to keep it real with our brothers and sisters who own businesses by saying, “Yes, I would love spending my money in your establishment, but…” Let it be known! Always go back to see if there has been a change. Never abandon Black business — doing so hurts us all.

Remember, as Black people building our Black business in a world where even our own set out to sabotage us, we have to work harder, work longer, and be more efficient in everything we do. When we work with a predominately White Corporate America, set-ups and traps are used like “Black kryptonite” to create failure. Just be aware.

It’s sad that time moves and yet some things stay the same.

Donald Allen, marketing and business consultant for Your Black Wall, lives and works in North Minneapolis. Visit their website at