By Doni Glover, Publisher
Unapologetically Black: Doni Glover Autobiography
Thursdays at Midnight on WEAA 88.9 FM
(BALTIMORE – May 12, 2020) – What separates Sheila Dixon from the field, with the exception of business magnate Rikki Vaughn, is that she understands the need to help empower Black-owned businesses. Ladies and gentlemen, that is the whole kit and caboodle of it all!
Every student of politics understands that if politics does not translate into business and economic development for the people – all of the people, then it is meaningless. Every other ethnic group knows it. Do we?
The Latinos understand the significance of business. Just go over to South Broadway. The Jews in Park Heights understand business and self-determination. Check out that beautiful market up on Seven Mile Lane. And look at the plans for the former Northwestern High School. And I bet they have some input on the future of Pimlico. The Greeks understand business. A mere glance at Eastern Avenue will tell you that. And the Italians in Little Italy understand business, too. Little Italy is loaded with Italian restaurants.
Question: What can the Black community point to? Where is Baltimore’s Black Wall Street? I am not at all suggesting that Blacks don’t own businesses here. Terence Dickson’s Terra Café Bmore has a half-dozen businesses immediately around it. Au contraire! While we do have some businesses, like Terra, that employee 20 or so employees, we mostly have an extremely high percentage of one-man/one-woman shops.
However, on a macro level, Black businesses only employ 2% and only garner 1.4% of the sales in Baltimore, according to the June 2018 Business Case for Economic Inclusion in Baltimore. That is a hot, dismal mess! Overall, our business community is on “balls and knuckles” – void of the necessary access to capital so as to better solidify our economic footprint.
As Meridian Management Group founder and CEO Stanley Tucker always reminds, “there is no capitalism without capital!”
Although nationally we garner nearly $1.5 trillion in annual disposable income and buy every designer brand in the book, our fiscal health overall as a community is as if we’re simply beggars sitting on bags of gold. We buy everything but control and produce very little.
I ask you, what is the point of having a large percentage of Black elected officials if it is not translating into jobs and Black-owned business expansion in a majority Black city?
Atlanta gets it. As a matter of fact, they’ve gotten it crystal clear over the past 40 years. So has Washington, D.C. With the shoulders of Marion Barry and Maynard Jackson on which to stand, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms are both in excellent position to continue to help empower the Black community.
In Baltimore, however, the powerful Black business legacy established by people like Isaac Myers, Tom Smith, Little Willie Adams, Henry Parks, Dorothy Brunson, Reginald F. Lewis and William and Roberta March has not blossomed today like it should. Yes, we have Banks Contracting, Commercial Construction, P&J Contracting, R. E. Harrington and a number of other well-established Black-owned businesses; but, we haven’t even scratched the surface on the business potential within Baltimore’s Black community.
If we did, then we would not have the same level of unemployment. More families would be together because a “bread winner” is on the scene for the long haul – like in the old days. Less men would be standing on the corner – up to no good. Our health would be better because we’d be more likely to see a doctor more regularly. We’d exercise more and eat better because we would not have 2 miles of West Baltimore turf without a supermarket.
All of this and more is possible if we do not miss this sacred opportunity before us to choose the only politically astute candidate in the race for Mayor of Baltimore with the skill and experience to manage what has turned into a financial meltdown. On top of the recent City computer virus that took our entire City administration hostage, we now have to navigate the pending economic fallout from COVID-19.
Surely, this is no time to waver. The only horse in the race who will definitely serve the otherwise forsaken Black community in the face of the historic institutional racism Baltimore is known for is Sheila Ann Dixon.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!
And let me just add – no, she is not perfect. Hell, she and I certainly have our differences. However, despite it all, one thing’s for sure, this woman has a compassion for our people – and all others – that is unmatched. And she genuinely loves our youth. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, time after time. She engages our young people anywhere and everywhere, and before you know it, she’s asking them about their future. And the Seniors … Everybody knows the Seniors love themselves some Sheila.
That’s what’s up! Nobody feels the pain of our political naiveté more than our Seniors and our seeds.
Let me also say for the record, she has more balls than a lot of men in this town. To me, she is a warrior. She fights for the people, and always has. I’ve watched her up-close and personal in all parts of town. She is the same person in each and every community. She is a champion for the little guy. And she is more likely to help empower the Black-owned businesses in Baltimore than most any other mayoral candidate in the race.