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March 16, 2015

Does "Buying Black" Hurt Black Entrepreneurs?

Author and entrepreneur Angela Jones, author of the book Breaking Through The Black Ceiling, has some new thoughts about Black entrepreneurship and diversification in business. In a recent interview with Madame Noire, she says that "buying Black" may be what’s hurting the Black economy.

When asked what the purpose of her new book is, Jones responded:

I wanted to change the mindset of Black business owners to embrace diversity, provide better customer service, leverage technology and understand business is meant to make a profit. How you go into it will determine how successful you are or are not. Being able to adapt to the business environment is essential for your business plans. Just because you’re Black doesn’t mean others will buy from you when you go into business. You can’t have that expectation, because that is not the reality.

When asked why building diverse relationships within the Black community is so important for the future of the Black economy, she responded:

Part of it comes from having the mindset of competition. A lot of times people think, “If I don’t have it, I don’t want others to have it.” We don’t have to be that way. Black business owners can sit back and pray that Black people will buy or they can create an environment that people want to buy regardless of race. If the product is made for a different ethnicity, then target it for all and make your money. Blacks are also concerned about where they are going to sell. You have to find people who need what you have.

When asked if she thinks Black entrepreneurs get caught up in wanting to only offer products that "please" the Black consumer, she responded:

I once saw a Black business owner in the service industry on Facebook complaining about how all of his customers are White from Ohio. I didn’t understand what the problem was. What was the issue? The only thing he could say was that he wanted Black people to buy from and support him. Your consumer exists… Why do you care what color they are if they are buying from you?

When you have the opportunity to open yourself up to another person that doesn’t look like you, do it. There’s a feeling of obligation to the Black community where we feel that we can’t pursue other avenues because we feel like we’re selling out. No, you’re selling your product. Selling out is allowing yourself to go out of business because of your Black pride and only wanting a consumer who looks like you. We can’t feel like our businesses are our cemeteries.

What do you think? Is she right? Do you agree or disagree?

For more details about Angela Jones and her book, visit her company's web site at