Stomping the Yard: Be An Undergrad Entrepreneur

“In 1860, 99% of all Black people worked for Whites. Today, 98% of all Black people work for Whites. You are enjoying a social illusion because you go to someone else’s restaurant, but you don’t own the restaurant yourself.” – Dr. Claud Anderson

As college students, do you see the intersection between your fight for justice on campus and self-sufficiency through the lens of economic empowerment? How do you support one another economically on the yard? What’s the student agenda for economic empowerment?

The importance of “Buying Black” is a topic that is often talked about. Yet and still, we continue to be negligent in fully supporting our own Black businesses.

It appears that our love for material things has not transferred into cultural patronage via Black businesses that create and sell equally nice material things. Apparently, society’s declaration of “what’s in,” “what’s hot,” and “what’s not” has us bamboozled. We long to rock brands made by folk that don’t care to rock with us, our issues nor our plight for justice, equity and equality.

Why do we still support those who won’t support us? Should we become better stewards of how and where we spend our money? Have we yet learned the optimal value of our dollars and what it means to have consumption as one of our leading cultural attributes?

According to renowned author, Dr. Claud Anderson, “There is no such thing as “consumer power.” The person who buys has no power. That’s like a crackhead saying because he buys the crack, he has “crack power.”

“It costs too much” is what we say when it comes to supporting Black businesses, but consider what we’d become if we were to support more of our own. Clearly, there’s room for much needed improvement.

Isn’t it time to literally, “Mind Our Own Business?

From 99% to just 98% in more than 150 years isn’t too impressive right? Especially considering we were still legally enslaved in 1860. Listen, now is the time to develop a stronger acumen with businesses that actually deserve our hard earned money. You don’t have to wait until you graduate to do better.

Here are 4 ways to become a B.O.S.S. on campus:

1. Build a business or brand): One of the most precarious things to believe amidst all of the technological advancements of your time is the notion of having to work for someone else first. Why? Have you tried to develop an institutional infrastructure specific to what you love doing? If not, why not? Ever heard of Carolyn Davidson? As a college student she was paid a whopping $35 to design a logo per the request of an associate professor on campus. Today her design, the Swoosh sign, is the symbol for NIKE—a $25 billion enterprise! Don’t waste time.
“Just Do It!”

2. Own a business: Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? Are you passionate about business? Well, create a name for what you envision your company being. Register that name with your state and when plausible, become a corporation. The cost is minimal. As opposed to buying those new shoes or clothes, apply for the right to own your business name. Trademark ™ and Register ® it now. Utilize the resources on your campus, i.e. professors in the Business Department. Ask questions and get answers.

3. Start a Black Business/Literacy/Investment organization on your campus: How many registered student organizations on your campus promote economic and financial literacy? I can’t recall one from my campus days. Why not start one for your peers and bring leading economists to campus to lecture on global enterprise, economic empowerment and startup companies? Create investment groups and get with like minds to explore economic answers for social problems.

4. Spend with Black businesses: Make a conscious effort to invest your dollars with people who invest in people like you. When was the last time you witnessed other ethnic groups overwhelmingly buy Black? They don’t and they know they don’t have to. Chinatown is self-sufficient. Even we support their cultural dynamic from their food to their services. Have you seen the reverse?

There’s never a need to apologize for replicating the very thing that other ethnic groups have mastered quite well. It’s actually intelligent to be self-sufficient. Take great pride in spending money with those who take greater pride in valuing you (and your interests) as you spend. That’s how you Mind Your Own Business, literally!

Dr. Gill is the CEO of Blackademically Speaking, a cutting edge educational consulting firm. She’s an award-winning motivational speaker and Author of the book, “Champions Break Chains and Black Genes-Black Genius: A Motivational Handbook to Empower Black Youth.” She’s on a mission to motivate and educate youth worldwide. See her inspire and empower youth here.