Disclaimer: We Need To Talk is a weekly column written by siKa J. The views and opinions expressed in this article are hers and do not necessarily reflect the position of JessicaSimien.com.
In lieu of all the turmoil going on every time you log into any social network, you will see the remnants of tyranny being treated as a tally mark in the game of tic-tac-toe. These “X”s and “O”s will never be able to represent hugs and kisses. Instead, the “X” serves as the elimination of our race and the “O” as the whole advancement of those outside of the circumstances we face daily. So I’ll lighten it up.
It seems our mindsets are getting in gear somewhat as and when it comes to where we spend our money (#SupportBlackBusinesses); and since that seems to be the direction we are heading, let’s discuss where our support stands, why, and if what we’re supporting is providing and using a positive platform (if they have one) for the race and community.
In order to move toward more powerful and meaningful progress, awareness is more than important and being unaware is the same thing as being blind.
WE NEED TO TALK.
About what exactly? Platforms and what they represent.
To finally get to the point where I realize how important support is, both ways (giving and receiving), the more I pay attention to the dollar that’s so hard to come by and where it is spent. I’ve gotten to the point where I refuse to spend with certain big or small corporations because of affiliation and what/how they acknowledge what they do or do not support.
For instance, for me, Uncle Ben’s Rice is a no go (there’s a story behind these characters on the boxes, it’s just not graphics or the best logo chosen), business’s against same bad word couples and unwelcoming businesses. So before I extend my support, I examine the platform now more than ever.
Back in the day, you could stand on a hill or stage to be heard but now all markets are saturated and people are distracted more than ever. You need a platform (besides income) to enable reciprocation. How you represent this platform is actually shown through your support system (where you give your support, how you receive your support, and how you give back) and not through a mission statement, bio or booking info. Who you affiliate with, what you promote, who supports you and who you support outside of your business represents a lot. It persuades your tribe – contacts, customers, prospects, followers, and fans.
I said all of that to address a few things in our community that seem out of place. We can’t grow if only a few of us with platforms flourish while the others continue to wade in the water. That does nothing for us. As customers and supporters of black businesses, we must hold ourselves and each other accountable for the business we conduct and represent. Of course the revenue within the community will be great but besides that, it will encourage outside support (whom we’ve been supporting all along, when some have never needed nor appreciated our dollar) if we solidly and consistently succeed. BUT, we make it hard.
Between these five habits: negative competition, failure to extend a hand when afforded the opportunity, bad business, horrible customer service and promotion of ignorance via social networking, I don’t know which poison is our downfall or how many we can eliminate – but we have to start somewhere.
The way we present things socially represents more than we can afford and sometimes we can lose support due to the ignorance we display. We’ve always been watched and predicted. We have to learn how to use social media effectively when we’re fortunate enough to be in the position to do so. Actions like re-posting fights, bad word, drugs, hate, etc. when you call yourself having a platform is when shit becomes unacceptable and trust if no one calls it out, I will, because it doesn’t work, (unless you’re a rapper or something) for this mission that we are on.
Failing to extend a hand when afforded the opportunity to do so and when it makes sense not only represents crabs in the bucket but it also represents you cutting off the path way every step you succeed in making. The only reason for a person not to extend a hand to another is the possibility of it damaging their image. Not doing so because of personal opinions, past beliefs and/or feelings, whether they support you or not, who they “kick” it with, blah blah blah is why we are continuing to go in circles instead of going up. Check yourself. Don’t you realize that you could be missing out on something or someone just by doing such simple gestures? There’s so much to say in an invitation.
Competition can be inspiring if presented correctly. It’s sort of like constructive criticism without being told by anyone. We all observe one another, no doubt. One thing that is easy to spot out is negative competition, which I hate. Subliminally using tactics to persuade support out of a competitors direction speaks volumes. There’s not much to say on that but that. We are in an era where we have no room for error, especially among each other. I don’t have to go on a rant about other races and how they do what they do. That is wasting time on something we already know. I’d rather use my time on helping us connect better on all levels for all businesses. What other way are we going to become our own providers? There’s no way up if we keep indulging in these habits. The results are already there.
I know where I want my support to go and my dollar too but I care to know the platform (if there is one) before I do. And that’s not being judgmental – it’s being logical – there are several options for several markets within our race. The good always weighs out the bad but this time, we shouldn’t let the bad just remain that. There are solutions to every problem and some things can be fixed, I do believe.
In support of black businesses, let’s continue to give our communities no choice but to support their own surroundings instead of using gas to spend elsewhere. To our black businesses, do it right! Be consistent! Be aware and vigilant about the way you are and who you represent. Let’s build each other up this go round. Your platform and our platform as a race depends on it and you, so does our future.
Think about it!