My Beef With Black Business

Zachary Raynell Rinkins

Black Enterprise (BE) is my favorite magazine. I depend on BE’s information to stay ahead of my competition. As I was reading this month’s issue something struck me. White companies bought nearly 54 percent of the ads. Black companies bought a meager 7 percent. That means white companies buy over 7 times more ads than black companies in a publication focused on empowering and promoting black people and black businesses. This is a shame!

What’s my beef? BE promotes our people and our issues from our perspective. Yet, our businesses leave BE and other black media hanging. When Forbes, Business Week or The Wall Street Journal overlooks our contributions, we can depend on BE to showcase them. This magazine also teaches us how economic trends affect our community. Yet, we refuse to take ownership of such a vital medium. Black businesses should be equitable ad buyers in media targeted toward black businesses and professionals, period.

White companies are the presenting sponsors for the overwhelming majority of black conferences (the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference, conventions of the NAACP, National Urban, Nation Black MBA Association, etc.) We should be ashamed that we do not partner in events that address and promote our issues. It seems as though our issues are more important to white companies because they sponsor them. What does that say about us? I have attended the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) summer program and its policy conference, twice. Guess who sponsors their events. AIPAC’s Jewish and Israeli constituency sponsors them. They feel they have a stake in AIPAC’s existence. They take pride in funding their issues. Where is our pride?

Of course our products are not race exclusive. That’s not what I’m saying. I don’t have a problem with white companies spending money or black businesses receiving it. You do what you have to do to remain competitive and profitable. We support white businesses. They should support us in return. My point is that we should have a more vested interest in sustaining our voice. And, we should have pride in advertising to our people. How can we convince other communities to believe in us when we don’t believe in ourselves?