For

Emily Romero, Journalist

Google’s new feature supporting Black-owned businesses is not an invalidation or an exclusion of other minority-owned or small businesses.  It gives black businesses more visibility. It also helps people find small businesses to support and give back to communities by allowing them navigate and reach out to Black entrepreneurs and businesses. Black History Month is a month to celebrate Black excellence, which also means to support businesses who don’t get as much exposure throughout their business.  To support a business isn’t to exclude others’ businesses. Praising someone else for their greatness does not mean an absence of yours or someone else’s.  

Why are Black businesses so important?  Let’s face it: Black culture is American culture, point exactly.  Black culture, amongst other cultures, is heavily embedded in American culture today.  Giving the option to support Black businesses explicitly reinvests back into communities that were once affected by racism and classism and contributes to the labour market. Supporting Black businesses helps to close the racial wealth gap. Tracing back to Jim Crow-era practices in today’s wealth gap, job discrimination and redlining has prevented and continues to prevent, to some extent, Black Americans from home ownership opportunities and social mobility.  The 1973 Social Security Act did not cover domestic and agricultural workers, predominantly African American and its requirements for residency and payroll information.  These are intergenerational disparities amongst Black communities. One in four black households have zero or negative net worth compared to one in ten white families without wealth.  This is why it is crucial to give back to communities in need and reinvest, creating opportunities for generational wealth.  

This is not just about the color of one’s skin and minimizing Black businesses and the community by saying they resort to the “race card.” The term “race card” is an invalidation of all POC, and a way to silence struggles people have endured in the US.  This concept states that people of color can use their race as a commodity to get out of situations.  The “race card” does not simply exist. People cannot be excused for their behavior or actions because of their race, but in systematic racism displayed by the justice system, we have seen countless cases of unfair trials and punishment faced by the Black community compared to crimes committed by white people.  Huge sparks of controversy came from the case of Cyntoia Brown, who was sentenced to prison for life with parole for killing her rapist at 16 while enduring human trafficking, compared to the case of Brock Turner, a caucasian Stanford student sentenced to 3 months in jail for raping an unconscious girl. The question we ask ourselves is, is our justice system fair to all?  In other instances, the race card in America is fundamentally an excuse of antagonizing POC. The only way to seek elimination of racism is to understand and acknowledge our own biases and hold others to an expectation of accountability.  We have to first ask ourselves what racism looks like today. 

Racism in inbred in US history, and it may not be in the form of being hate-crimed by a specific group or feelings of superiority, but instead lay in between our eyes of underfunding of low-income neighborhoods that are predominately Black and Latino, mass incarceration, gentrification of low-income areas and pushing Black communities out, Black women facing gender and racial discrimination at workplaces, and several other disparities.  We need to acknowledge the problem to eliminate the problem. This feature is another miniscule step towards accomplishing that.