Will Iowans sustain support for Black-owned businesses?


As a local Black business owner, one question I’ve pondered over the past several months is whether or not our community will sustain our support of local Black businesses when #SupportBlackBusinesses is no longer trendy. In our current climate of contemporary pro-Black Activism and Black Solidarity, we’ve seen individuals in our community from diverse backgrounds make unified efforts to dismantle institutional injustices, specifically with regard to African-Americans. We’ve also seen a surge of hashtags that include: #BuyBlack, #SupportBlack-owned, and #SupportBlackBusinesses when consumers support Black businesses. While these efforts are much needed, I continue to wonder whether or not we maintain our support of local Black businesses when pro-Blackness is no longer the issue of the day or popular opinion. By “we,” I mean us as individuals, a collective, a community, entities and institutions.

When considering this social context, my concern is that when the perceived relevance of contemporary pro-Blackness fades, so goes our support of Black businesses. If this is the case, we must acknowledge that abandoning such support disrupts the strives that Black entrepreneurs have made toward establishing, growing and expanding their business during an era when business ownership seems possible and feasible. Such abandonment can also dampen budding business concepts that need the right soil, potting and nourishment for Black entrepreneurs to flourish in our community.

Although there’s never a one-size-fits-all model for any socioeconomic condition, I believe that there are approaches we can take to critically examine this matter. We can start by examining economic development efforts that have taken place in our community that have focused specifically on Black entrepreneurship and explore whether or not they’ve been sustainable. We can also examine sustainability models of comparable communities, determining whether the pedagogy of traditional or accelerated small business startup programs are a good fit for Black businesses. We can also learn from local established businesses such as Unique Beauty Supply, Sugar Peach, Willie Caldwell State Farm Agent and the Crab Attack Cajun Seafood Shack, and learn about sustainable business practices they’ve exercised in our the local market.

It’s important to realize that there are real people and families behind the source of socio-economic fades. As a community and individuals, it’s important to consider the human element when continuing support the growth and development of Black entrepreneurs when the hashtags disappear.

LaSheila Yates is a moderator and producer of KCRG-TV9’s Ethical Perspectives on the News. She worked over decade in local government, received her Certified Public Manager dedication from Drake University and also has her SHRM-CP designation from the Society of Human Resource Management.

LaSheila Yates

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