The Truth About Black Folks and Our Reputation in Business

Four reason some black businesses get a bad rap (and what entrepreneurs can do to fight it)

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Religious and spiritual books and every book about success discuss the power of words.  The most effective leaders in our world, past and present, have made changes and moved masses with their words.  What we say and believe will eventually manifest and perpetuate itself over time.

Why then do we continue to verbally uphold poor standards and stereotypes about black people in business and scratch our heads or get upset when, in too many cases, they turn out to be true?

Our statements, jokes and expectations that a black-owned business will be “bootleg,” poorly run, always out of a product it is supposed to have, or unsafe – or that a black businessperson will be late, unprepared or expecting arbitrary discounts – are completely unacceptable.  If you believe the precepts that “thoughts are things” and “words have power” then you know every time we speak this nonsense and dap each other up or affirm the statement with that “girl, I know what you mean” look, we are dooming ourselves to staying trapped on the bottom rung of business success.

When I say it is nonsense, I don’t mean it never happens.  I mean that it happens at businesses run by all types of people and I mean that for whatever truth there is to those statements we ought to be focused on using our words, energy and finances in the most powerful way we can: By speaking about, patronizing and operating black-owned businesses that are models of excellence – and demanding that those who are not there yet rise to the standard, starting with self.

There are root causes that create these problems.  Let’s solve them:

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  • Jacqueline A. Grimes

    The above article was well written and emphasized some real problems in black culture, especially among business ventures. I think part of the issue stems from the legacy of U.S. slavery for blacks–the “remains of the day”, if you will. Our ethnicity has always been dangled in muck and mire for political gains and social advancement, even prior to the Civil War. Some have grown insensitive to negative language (continuous use of “nigger”) through constant rejection and prejudices over matters we cannot change (e.g.,skin tone, original hair texture). We’re a real standout for ridicule and statistical analysis on nearly everything (poll comparisons to whites and others from education to medical conditions). It’s a trip to listen to and see news reports about us. I try to represent the Agape LOVE that’s in me by design, so loving my people is easy; helping them transform their mind, so that they can be strongly supported, is challenging. But still, I try.

  • WriteMoneyInc

    Public perception of a business depends on the mindset of the business’ leaders. I’ve done business with top notch firms owned and operated by black innovators and leaders. As the article begins, poor business products/services aren’t isolated to black owned companies. Maybe some of us focus on poor service more when dealing with a black owned business, thereby creating blinders and diminishing the same poor service when we see it at other businesses. Bottom line is successful businesses provide quality products and services, else they would likely not survive. There are many black owned businesses that fit this description. Look for good and see if it doesn’t start showing up more in your life.


  • jerry

    Denise, you sound like a 12 year old. Stupid comment

  • Robin Walton

    Felicia Joy’s articles were right on point. As Black people who own businesses we must band together to work hard so that we all can accomplish our dream. I own a cosmetics company and I have excellent products sold at a reasonable price. I have an online right now, but I look forward to opening a store in mall in the near future.

  • Destined4Success

    From my perspective, the author is speaking about two seperate issues: One being the power of positive affirmations and second, the mindset of some Black business owners. They are not one in the same. Positive thinking and speaking is great if that is your mindset. However, with respect to those businesses who fit into the negative stereotype, there are obviously issues that they have not or may be unwilling to address. Until that happens, we will continue having this subject raised. For those owners who have taken the time to educate themselves on how to successfully run and sustain a business, I will continue to give you my support.

  • Janine Bell

    This issue is two-fold but it’s a mindset issue on both parts. We business owners have to take ourselves and our business serious enough to compete in the market. Just like in any field we have to go the extra mile- arrive the earliest and stay the latest BECAUSE these stigmas exist. Stay relevant and ahead of the curve. And like Felicia says, be honest with yourself. These stereotypes don’t create themselves. If there was nothing subpar going on, consumers wouldn’t have anything to complain about.

    The other side of the coin is the consumer. We can’t treat these businesses like they are all the same. We tend to carry a chip on our shoulder when it comes to Black-owned businesses. One bad experience ruins it for everyone else. That doesn’t make any sense to blame Peter for Paul’s crime. Then, we ONLY do it in our own communities- that’s a whole separate issue in and of itself. We have to give each business a fair chance at our business/loyalty. The “part” does not necessarily reflect the “whole.”

    As an entrepreneur and consumer I understand both sides of this detrimental coin.
    I recently wrote a blog entitled “Stop Treating Black Businesses Like the Ex Who Cheated on You” on this very issue- the consumer side. It’s funny how I came across this as well.

    Great post Felicia.

    Peace | Love | Light
    -Janine Bell

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  • Judy A. Brown

    I’m a 67 year old Black Woman with 2 patents, and have designed a park that would benefit my community and give our children and families a safer place to play and learn. My first patent I designed a stroller seat only to have a big company copy the idea of the intention of it’s use with the help of my patent lawyer. I received a patent for a portable urinal only to be told the mold could not be made, so now I’m in the process of having to apply for a new patent because a modification is not allowed.I am determined to get my products out there, but I just don’t know how. This article is very enlightening.I will contact the U.S.SBA and Score asap. Thank you.

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