The cultural competitive disadvantage that defines African American businesses

A few weeks ago I was listening to The Breakfast Club interview with Chicago artist Jidenna (Classic Man). It was a very informative interview with the artist being very open about his Nigerian roots and religions / social beliefs. To view the video take a look below:

While ciphering through the interview Jidenna spoke about the cultural disadvantage of black businesses. In Jidenna’s opinion, black Americans have no “nation” to connect with for resources. Due to that lack of connection, it is hard for black owned businesses to offer niche products at competitive prices. After reading a recent article at the Economic Times India, I was amazed at how that statement rang true. The article can be summed up in one sentence: “The Other One Percent: Indians in America” authored by US-based academics Sanjoy Chakraborty, Devesh Kapur and Nirvikar Singh”.

In taking a deeper dive of the article “Within the Asian category, the combined annual gross receipts of Indians is the highest at $227.14 billion followed by the Chinese ($210.06 billion), Koreans ($107.81 billion) and Vietnamese ($34.64 billion) African American entrepreneurs, stymied by serious capacity and access issues, continue to struggle in comparison with the other minorities in the US.”

“They can underbid contracts,” Earl Harvey, a Black activist and editor of The Black Professionals News in Philadelphia, explained. “Blacks are at a competitive disadvantage here.”

The Economic Times article is a summary of the successes of Indian Americans and how they’ve been able to build a successful and lucrative community in the US. According to the article, one-fifth of current Indian entrepreneurs “had the capacity to invest over $1 million of personal capital.” This is a huge success and brings to light the benefits of being an immigrant along with the possibilities in America. For African Americans, it is unfortunately different. With no native nation to speak of, establishing a support system in the normal immigrant way is impossible. In addition, the resources currently held by black Americans are already the lowest of any ethnicity in America. So how does a business community lacking in resources both internal and external create a wealthy community? Well, there’s no answer to that. If there were, I’m sure black Americans would be pushing for it. Still, there is hope. If African American businesses want to develop a pipeline of overseas offering, they can easily do so if committed. Investment will have to be heavy in nations inside and outside of America, but it is possible. No American group started their journey like blacks and Native Americans. I often joke that
immigrants say they come to America with nothing, well I wish my ancestors came with nothing. Starting at zero and becoming successful is easier then starting at three-fifths human.

Still, I have hope, and black Americans should have hope too.