Merlene Davis: Buy Black Monday helps build black wealth

Herald-Leader columnistNovember 25, 2013 


    Buy Black Monday, a marketplace for small black businesses

    When: 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 2.

    Where: Imani Baptist Church, 1555 Georgetown St.

    Information: Email

Before all the holiday sales ran together into the great ball of confusion we have now, there was Black Friday, followed by Cyber Monday sales online.

About three years ago, small businesses claimed the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday, hoping to get consumers to spend money locally.

Marilyn Clark, a member of the local chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, said consumers buying locally and targeting a specific group of merchants to support is the vision behind Buy Black Monday, the push to support local black small-business owners as we divvy up dollars budgeted for the holidays.

Buy Black Monday is an outgrowth of the economic security initiative of AKA nationally, she said. Small-business owners create jobs, no matter how small the venture.

"Even if it is a one-person shop," she said, "they hire someone to build their website, and pay for accounting and bookkeeping. Even the smallest business is creating jobs."

This is the sixth year that the program has been held in Lexington, and the third that Clark has coordinated. Last year, about 25 vendors displayed and sold their wares at Imani Baptist Church, and about 200 consumers walked through. That's good, but Clark would like to see more.

"There are all kinds of businesses," she said. "It is like a shopping market."

Clark hopes that people turn out not only to shop but to enjoy the camaraderie, she said.

"Reconnecting is a part of our culture," Clark said.

The businesses will be more retail-oriented, featuring handmade jewelry, candles, Christmas decorations, artwork and baskets, plus apparel, handbags and scarves.

Clark, the minority business enterprise liaison for the Urban County Government, said anyone with a talent should have a business.

"I strongly feel all of us should own something," Clark said. "We should take our talents and turn them into a business. That extra bit of income makes a big difference, in addition to creating jobs. Strong business means a strong community."

University of Kentucky graduate, author and financial expert Boyce Watkins said there are 10 reasons we should support black merchants with at least 10 percent of our holiday budgets. First, it creates jobs during a time in this country when jobs are hard to come by.

Plus, he said, many consumers support their own cultures, so why shouldn't black people follow suit? Black people, he said, "have more spending power than the countries of Turkey, Australia and Taiwan."

According to the "Resilient, Receptive and Relevant African-American Consumer 2013 Report" by Nielsen and the National Newspaper Publishers Association, black buying power is $1 trillion and is forecast to increase to $1.3 trillion by 2017.

Economic equality is what Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X called for as the next step in the civil rights movement, Watkins said.

"Having political power without economic power is like getting a driver's license when you can't even afford to buy a car," he wrote in his blog. "That's why most of our gains have been rolled backward."

Clark said blacks "don't grow up with people sitting around the table talking about business. But we are getting there."

She said the next two generations will see business ownership.

"We were taught to go to school and get a job," she said. "Now, they want all three."

Black business ownership kept the black community self-sufficient during the era of segregation. During these times of unemployment or under-employment, it will work again.

But we have to support those efforts, starting with Buy Black Monday and continuing throughout the year.

If you go

Buy Black Monday, a marketplace for small black businesses

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 2.

Where: Imani Baptist Church, 1555 Georgetown St.

Information: Email

Merlene Davis: (859) 231-3218. Email: Twitter: @reportmerle. Blog:

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