In the best of times, Black people have had to overcome this country’s persistent underinvestment in Black business
I was raised in a home that was fueled by a Black-owned business. My father, Everett Robinson, has been a self-employed contractor in East Long Island for over 45 years. Everyday I witnessed the long hours and non-traditional hours to “land the plane” on the commitments to clients. Working with him during our summers as kids meant my brother and I got the chance to see first-hand all the unseen, extra work it takes to make ends meet as a Black business owner. We saw all the jobs given to other people not as qualified, all the slights he was asked to accept, and all the extra hoops he was asked to jump through in order to turn his vision for his business into a reality. But we also witnessed the pride and dignity that comes with the ability to work for yourself, and to be your own boss. We saw all the opportunities — from making sure our family had our basic needs met, to putting us through school — that his sacrifices made possible for us.
The truth is that Black businesses are not just the places we go to buy things we need. They are often pillars of the community that create pathways to independence for our people that would not otherwise exist. That’s why it’s so crucial that we step up in this moment and fight for Black entrepreneurs and employees, who are getting the short end of the stick as they struggle to survive the COVID-19 outbreak. The small business protections Congress has passed in its CARE Act are not sufficient. States are already overwhelmed with an unprecedented number of unemployment benefit applications. The emergency relief package has significant implementation issues, is being tied up with unnecessary red tape, and is not getting to Black-owned businesses fast enough to prevent the massive layoffs and shut downs our communities are facing. Without legislation from Congress that specifically creates protections for small Black-owned businesses, there is no telling how many of our people will continue to lose their livelihoods, their jobs, and their healthcare during this pandemic.
That’s why we’re calling on Congress for a small business emergency relief plan that:
- Provides funding for small business grants, not loans, that will allow for Black-owned businesses to retain and rehire their workforce and reopen after the health crisis. This includes funds for direct payroll support, as well as covering all costs to maintain the business. Making sure that businesses, especially Black owned businesses, can maintain payroll through direct transfers rather than loans will ensure these businesses can survive the crisis, get money into the hands of people more quickly, and relieve the strain on a patchwork of state unemployment systems.
- Mandates a full, public accounting by race, gender and geography of where stimulus money has gone particularly have Black-owned businesses received federal support.
- Creates targeted support funds for Black businesses. Any additional funding for small business support should include a substantial dedicated fund for supporting minority-owned businesses.
Chris can you please post this under BOBSA information posted in a good spot
TO ALL BOBSA MEMBERS AND NETWORK PARTNERS
In the best of times, Black people have had to overcome this country’s persistent underinvestment in Black business. According to a 2016 study by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy and Research, only 1% of Black-owned businesses received a bank loan in their first year of operation, compared to 7% of white businesses. And twice the number of white business owners use a credit card during their first year of operation at 30%, as do Black business owners at 15%.1 Congress’s current small business relief program assumes that all business owners have equal access to credit and to banking services. But we know that has never been the case. From redlining to the refusal to provide loans, Black people in this country have historically been locked out of entrepreneurship, with devastating consequences for our communities, both then and now. Today, Black-owned firms with paid employees generate over $103 billion annually.2 By providing a paycheck guarantee to businesses directly, Congress has the chance to invest in essential industries, to prevent countless layoffs, to preserve our communities’ access to healthcare, and to ensure that the places that have served our communities for years are able to survive this crisis. Join us in calling on Congress to provide legislation that protects Black businesses today.
There is no community that will be harder hit by the current lack of protections for small businesses during COVID-19 than the Black business community. Congress’s current small business relief package prioritizes corporations, not the people that need relief the most. Unless we see legislation like Representative Pramila Jayapal’s that provides direct relief and specific protections for our business community, Black business-owners will continue to disproportionately carry the financial burden of this crisis. Black entrepreneurs deserve the same kind of access to coronavirus relief packages that will keep other businesses in this nation afloat during this crisis and beyond. It’s time for a direct legislation that protects Black businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak from Congress now.
Until justice is real,
— Rashad and the rest of the Color Of Change team
- “Black and White: Access to Capital among Minority-Owned Startups,” Stanford Institute for Economic Policy and Research, December 15, 2016, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/163219?t=11&akid=42018%2E5019267%2EJzEK8A
- “Coronavirus economic relief cannot neglect Black-owned business,” The Brookings Institute, April 8, 2020, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/163219?t=13&akid=42018%2E5019267%2EJzEK8A
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