Black businesses are fighting for their lives. We can’t afford to lose them

The Washington Post

By Michelle Singletary

November 20, 2020

Under political pressure, in the late 19th century, Black Codes gave way to equally oppressive Jim Crow laws and other discriminatory legislation that further stunted the growth of Black businesses.

During the early 20th century, Black communities that did manage to prosper — teeming with Black-owned businesses — became the target of White mobs.

“Political intimidation, economic exclusion, and the erasure of communities where Blacks had attained some measure of affluence were the customary aims of a wave of massacres conducted by Whites,” William Darity and Kirsten Mullen write in “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in The Twenty-First Century.” One example: “The horrific 1921 massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, razed the prosperous Black Greenwood community, a so-called ‘Black Wall Street,’” the authors write.

These riots robbed Black communities of entrepreneurial enterprises and the jobs that helped stabilize neighborhoods. You might argue that these racially motivated attacks happened too long ago to matter now. However, burned-down, Black-owned businesses have since been replaced with White-owned predatory operations, such as payday-loan stores that trap Black borrowers in cycles of debt.