The Bahamas is an ideal locale for a traveler seeking paradise. The small archipelago is an oasis, with its tropical weather, luxurious resorts, and the third largest barrier reef. I had the privilege of cruising with Carnival to Nassau for the New Year and I was astounded with the rich aesthetic, culture, and history of the islands.
The authentic bond between the native brethren was as piercing as the white sand beaches and delicious seafood. A local Bahamian served as our group’s gleeful tour guide; he drove us through the streets of his beloved Nassau, discussing the island’s history and culture. We purchased trinkets from a small, outdoor marketplace; traipsed to a restaurant in the urban center of the island; and tasted conch salad at a local seaport. As our guide transported us from destination to destination, I noticed that he was increasing capital gain for local businesses by bringing tourists to them. I’ve never witnessed a more earnest example of kinship.
This illustration of Bahamian allegiance can aid Black Americans as well. In September 2012, the Nielsen Company released “The State of the African-American Consumer,” a report that projected that Black Americans’ buying power could exceed $1 trillion by 2015. The report confirmed the economic clout of the black dollar, but also provided hope that we can sustain black-owned businesses. The support of African-Americans is crucial to the financial durability of all businesses, but if we were to invest in black-owned and operated businesses, we have the potential to foster thriving industries that serve our interests. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) found that only 2 cents of every dollar a Black American spends is given to black-owned businesses.
We can’t succeed without investment. Maggie Anderson, cofounder of the Empowerment Project and author of Our Black Year, committed her family to patronizing black-owned businesses for 12 months. In her book, she recounts her experiences and spotlights the challenges that most black-owned businesses experience. Anderson reiterated in her book the importance of black economic empowerment in sustaining our businesses. Our purchasing potential maintains the strength of the American economy as well.
For the first time, I visited a black-owned hair store in Carbondale, Ill. Though it is impossible to dedicate 100 percent of my dollars to black-owned businesses, I’ve vowed to purchase hair products solely from this store. It’s that simple.
Bahamians were oppressed as Black Americans were and we still battle those collective emotional and spiritual scars, but in order for us to thrive economically, we must begin to support businesses created within our communities. Local black-owned stores and nail technicians and hair emporiums are deserving of our patronage. Bahamians have discovered the power of support in entrepreneurship, and as I descended from the Carnival Imagination ship on the shores of Miami, I developed sincere hope that Black Americans could achieve this as well.