Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"The White Man's Ice is Cooler ?"

When I first heeard that quote, "The white man ice is cooler ?," I bursted out laughing. That's some funny stuff.

I think I was a high school kid and my dad was talking about where people bought their cars. Then I stopped laughing. I thought about it and said, "Hey wait a minute. Ice is Ice."

Everyday, black consumers spend over 2 billion dollars. We are some of the world's best consumers. We are gifted with incredible wealth. And with that wealth comes power. Our weakness is our aspirational spending on material goods.

We spend like we have a inferiority complex. We spend like we are trying to prove our worth and our value. We spend because we want the respect of the larger society that has denigrated us. "See, look, we are equal because I can buy whatever you buy." We spend rich; we spend white.

Unfortunately for black people, all major consumer companies are only to happy to oblige. They are willing to sell us something that will cure our inferiority complex, for a price.

A great example is the slimy salesmen our lack of self-esteem against us with the classic BS comment: "You can't afford it."

Sadly, this fundamental flaw in our character causes a lot of Black unemployment. Why do we lag in jobs, assets, entrepreneurship. Because we are short sighted about long term happiness. We are short-sighted about were we spend our money.

We spend too much on fleeting short term happiness from products and under invest in long term happiness from friends, family, schools and stable neighborhoods. "I going to get mine" is a familiar saying. So you got it, what then ? Many of us "got ours," what do we do next ? Well we spend some more. We don't know how rich we really are. We even gave our retirement money to the bankers who ruined the economy.

So, ask you self this this question when you shop.  "Do the people who own the shop look like me ?", "Could me or my kid work there, if I needed a job ?" Carefully, look at the place where you spend your money ? Could your kid work there if he needed a job ? Do you see anyone who looks like you? Did their advertisements include people like you ?

As well all know, it is easy to find fault, but proposing some real solutions is difficult.   Here are some suggestions:

1) Spend your money wisely. Use the rule of thumb: Am I spending money at a place that would hire me or my kids ? It is as simple as that.

2) Spend money at places that employ Black people. So that is Walmart, CVS, safeway, Ford and Chrysler, McDonald's, American Airlines. Not subway, abercrombe and fitch, coach or american apparel.

3) Buy your car or house from a Black salesperson. Or best yet a Black car dealer. I know sales people are nice, but nice doesn't cut it. They work on commission. And the level of service is the same. All the sales reps have access to multiple listing service, ebay, yahoo or carfax.

4) Eat out at places that employ Black people. There is nothing wrong with TGIF Fridays, Burger King or White Castle. Think twice about McDonalds or 7-11 when no one looks like you. I am not saying don't go, just look for an alternative. Or eat healthy at home.

5) Get competitive bids: For every major purchase greater than $1000 consider getting three bids including a Black business or business person. It takes work but you can go to sleep knowing you tried.

6) Look for Black sales people and managers when you shop. Business that pay sales people commission are commodities (houses, cars, appliances) and count on sales people to make a difference. You will probably never see a them again, so make you purchase count.

7)Complain. Let Black business know when something is wrong, but then go back and make sure it is corrected. We will give the benefit of the doubt to everyone but our own people.

8) Hustle. Start a business yourself. A business is an education for free. Business truly understands their consumers. The off the books economy pays for itself.

Summary: Until Black people consider how every purchase help you community, our community will suffer. Always ask yourself this question, "Could my kid work here if he needs a job ?"


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