The article on the Huffington Post called “Black-Owned Businesses are Quietly Powering Detroit’s Resurgence, But No One’s Talking About It” struck me for a few of reasons. In summary, the article highlights Black-owned businesses that are receiving the recognition for their valuable work. One discusses Hamilton Anderson Associates, a company that has grown nationally to aid in the development and modernization of Detroit, created by an African-American man. Another highlights Detroit Vegan Soul, a vegan, pseudo-healthy take on comfort, soul food, started by two African-American women. Yet another of the more than 5 black-owned companies mentioned in the article is Source Bookstore, a bookstore containing an eclectic and expansive selection of books, paired with community events and classes.
One reason why I found this article particularly interesting is because it pertains to the work I am doing here in Detroit. At ProsperUS, we are working with minority, refugee, immigrant, and underserved small business owners in order enable their business development. Comparing the success of these small businesses from an article published a few years ago, to the number of established and growing businesses that I see in my work every day at Prosper is truly astonishing. Every day at work I feel as though I’m learning about a new business concept, innovative idea, or market I didn’t know existed previously.
Another reason why this article caught my eye was because of the emphasis it placed on Black-Owned businesses. In an effort to seem color-blind, the author, Kate Abbey-Lambertz, put these businesses in their own category of “Blacked-Owned.” Yes, it does highlight those business that were created by a black person, but excludes businesses in Detroit that are started by Mexican immigrants, Venezuelans, and Syrian refugees, to name a few. In an effort to highlight one group and include them in the more general population of white small business owners, she further excludes groups that are unrecognized but still struggle, persevere, and ultimately succeed in the small business world.
In that way, I think the author’s view was close-minded and frankly, a bit naive. In my opinion, I think she should have included all groups on an equal playing field to further level demographic and racial disparities.