Patt Morrison for March 21, 2012

A racially divided economy and the quest to buy black

Our Black Year: One Family's Quest to Buy Black in America's Racially Divided Economy

PublicAffairs/The Perseus Books Group

"Our Black Year: One Family's Quest to Buy Black in America's Racially Divided Economy" by Maggie Anderson.

John and Maggie Anderson, an upper-middle class African American couple, felt uneasy about the fate of those who were less fortunate. They knew that with black wealth amounting to only a tenth of white wealth in the U.S., most African Americans live in economically depressed neighborhoods.

They also discovered that, compared to other communities, African American consumers aren’t as supportive of African American-owned businesses. One economist found that in Asian communities, a dollar spent will circulate between businesses for up to 28 days before it leaves the community. By comparison, a dollar spent in African American communities leaves within 6 hours. Furthermore, while African Americans make up only 13 percent of the population, they account for 25 to 45 percent of the consumer base for grocery stores, fast food restaurants, and athletic apparel and toy stores.

Faced with this information, the Andersons created The Empowerment Experiment, where they pledged to only patronize black-owned businesses for a year. Maggie Anderson joins Patt to talk about her year of “buying black.”

WEIGH IN:

What other ways do you think could help spur growth in economically depressed communities? Could you do as they did? Do you think their experiment was a valid way to encourage investment in the black community?

Guest:

Maggie Anderson, CEO and founder of The Empowerment Experiment and the author of “Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy.” Read an excerpt of the book here.


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