How to Buy Black
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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The Andersons

When Chicagoans John and Maggie Anderson made a pledge to spend all of their income with black-owned businesses for an entire year, they launched a movement that would eventually become The Empowerment Experiment ( The story of that year, 2009, has now been told in a new book by Maggie Anderson, Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy (PublicAffairs; $25.99).

Along the way, the Andersons–highly educated, upper-middle-class professional parents of two young daughters–discovered that spending with a focus on community self-help takes more than just good intentions–it requires a strategic approach. In the following excerpt from Our Black Year, Anderson details 14 key tips to take economic empowerment from lofty notion to practical and executable reality. Here’s what it takes to follow their “buy black” example.

Maggie’s Tips for Buying Black the EE Way

Begin with the “low hanging fruit.”
Make it easy on yourself: Jump-start your new lifestyle by altering your spending habits on what is most convenient. Subscribe to a black newspaper or magazine, support black designers at the department stores, buy black-made products at mass retailers and grocery stores, open an account at a black-owned bank, buy gift cards at a black-owned McDonald’s or Burger King.

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Join the Conversation

Maggie Anderson, and her husband, John, have been living off black business and talent, and buying black made-products for all of 2009. They call their pledge The Empowerment Experiment (EE). National media follow EE and the Andersons use that platform and their website ( to inspire more Americans to support Black business. EE seeks to defy negative stereotypes about Black entrepreneurs, goods and services while proving that Black communities could be improved if Black consumers would spend/invest more money with their own businesses. Their experiment will serve as the foundation for a landmark study on self-help economics in the Black community. Maggie, a business consultant, is a graduate of Emory University, and earned her MBA and JD from the University of Chicago. John, a Harvard graduate, is a financial advisor, who earned his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. They live in Oak Park, Illinois, with their two daughters; Cori 2, and Cara, who is 4.