Black History Month 2021
Every year Black History Month offers us a touchstone time – time to uplift the stories of Black Americans often confronting brutal conditions but rising above them and changing America for the better. This month provides us with an important opportunity to highlight the historical (and current) racist structures that have led us to an inequitable situation today – including one with a huge racial wealth gap in Maryland (and America). The pandemic has highlighted these long-standing issues and should be a clarion call for change in so many fields of life. I’ll be taking this month to highlight the important role that our Black-owned businesses play here in Maryland.
First, the current devastating situation:
-Nearly half of all Black owned small businesses have closed their doors during this pandemic wiping out opportunities to build generational wealth.
-Almost twice as many Black owned businesses closed compared to their white counterparts during the pandemic.
– Almost half of all Black applicants experienced discrimination or were discouraged from applying for forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.
-Black entrepreneurs are 20% less likely to be approved for a loan than their white counterparts.
Governments have made policy decisions – some intentionally racist and some not – that have disenfranchised Black Marylanders and prevented the building of generational wealth. Some pratices have included redlining, mortgage discrimination, capital lending discrimination, and more – these practices were policy-made and need to be unmade by policies as well. We have the chance each and every day to do better – to decide to elect leaders and advocate for policies that create a Maryland that works for everyone, not just a few.
And while we work toward policy solutions – including the #BlackAgenda championed by Speaker Adrienne Jones this year – we have the chance to act individually as well! We can individually and collectively lift up the Black-owned businesses that are integral to building thriving communities, neighborhoods, and a prosperous state, especially as the pandemic continues to cause disproportionate harm.
That’s why this month I am highlighting different Black-owned businesses and I hope you join me in giving them your attention and patronage.