By Doni Glover
(BALTIMORE – February 7, 2023) – The state of Black businesses, often categorized by some mainstream zealots as minority business enterprises (MBEs), is a staple topic here at BMORENews.com and has been since our first day in August 2002.
To his credit, then-City Councilman Martin O’Malley made MBE a key tenet of his political platform in both his mayoral and gubernatorial campaigns. O’Malley quickly realized that he needed the Black vote and because he wasn’t Black, he needed to push the envelope in an unprecedented manner. Being an outsider, what better way to endear oneself to Baltimore’s Black community than to help Black-owned businesses? As former Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford has stated repeatedly, nobody hires Black people at a higher rate than Black-owned businesses.
Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich and his running mate, former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, also made MBE a priority. They pushed the envelope in a fantastic way, too. Taking a page out of O’Malley’s playbook, Ehrlich and Steele served Black businesses – especially in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, in historic form. They also set aside 10% of state business for small businesses and made the Secretary of the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs a cabinet position to demonstrate their commitment to Black empowerment further.
All this to say, it is imperative for this news organization to hold our elected officials accountable, particularly when it comes to Black dollars. Baltimore is a 64% Black city. Maryland is 30% Black. Yet, Black-owned businesses get nowhere near their fair portion of the business. And it’s not just here, it’s the case most everywhere in America.
Hence, one must question terms loosely tossed around merely for the sake of conversation; terms like diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism.
They must be more than just buzzwords on a vision board. They must translate into Black wealth.
Combatting racism takes a hell of a lot more than simply putting up a “Black Lives Matter” poster in one’s window. Just like any loving relationship, it requires work. It also requires fairness where all involved eat. When this doesn’t happen, it begs the question, why not?
Politico noted last year that America’s biggest cities have Black mayors: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston. So, too, do other key cities like Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Now, Wes Moore makes the nation’s 3rd Black governor. And let’s not forget the first Black president, Pres. Barack Obama.
While the Black community and beyond applaud these political firsts, they mean absolutely nothing if that political power isn’t parlayed into capital for the Black community. As local Black business leader Stanley Tucker repeats all the time, “There is no capitalism without capital.” Black businesses cannot grow without money.
This is exactly why the people of Washington, D.C. loved Mayor for Life Marion Barry so dearly: because he made sure everybody ate, Black and white. He is legendary for his knack of getting people employed and getting Black-owned businesses into position to build multi-million dollar enterprises. Some argue that there’d be no Prince George’s County had it not been for Barry.
Donahue Peebles comes to mind. So does Robert Johnson. Barry put them and countless other Black entrepreneurs into a position to become wealthy.
In “Unapologetically Black”, Raymond V. Haysbert, Sr. was quoted as saying, “civil rights mean nothing without Silver Rights, or the ability to access money and wealth.”
As we navigate this year’s Maryland General Assembly as we soon head into a mayoral election season next year, Black business will always be at the top of the agenda at this news site.
Do stay tuned to BMORENews.com, the news before the news where we uncover the truth!