Earlier last month, I ran across an article on FOXNews.com that covered how a Chicago family’s experiment to “buy black” was spreading to other parts of the nation. The point of the experiment should be pretty clear – if you’re a black family, then you should be supporting (to the extent that you can do so) only black businesses. That would include black-owned grocery stores, movie theaters, doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc. The article suggests:
Maggie and John Anderson of Chicago vowed four months ago that for one year, they would try to patronize only black-owned businesses. The “Empowerment Experiment” is the reason John had to suffer for hours with a stomach ache and Maggie no longer gets that brand-name lather when she washes her hair. A grocery trip is a 14-mile odyssey.
“We kind of enjoy the sacrifice because we get to make the point … but I am going without stuff and I am frustrated on a daily basis,” Maggie Anderson said. “It’s like, my people have been here 400 years and we don’t even have a Walgreens to show for it.”
You know, this is a pretty interesting commentary on some of the larger market forces at work right now. If you can look past the purpose for which the article was written (one ethnic group supporting itself through commerce), then you have a larger story about how commerce, itself, needs to change.
Does it need to revert to an ethnicity-based economy? No, not at all. I don’t think that path is the right one by any means. However, I think the story in the article is showing how the economy needs to become more locally-based – especially in the food industry. In essence, the experiment to buy from those of a single race should spread outside of ethnicity and race and become a larger push for consumers to consume only foods that are grown locally, to use doctors and other professionals who are locally based, and to move purchases away from what might always be a convenient option (going to the local big box store to buy grapes imported from Ecuador) to what might be a better option for your health and the fragile local economy.
Anyway, I think that this is an interesting concept and while I wouldn’t support expanding this idea in a race-based format, I would support a larger push for supporting local businesses. Something to think about.