It took a long time for me to realize that I didn’t have to pay for bad service. As Black people who are less likely to be business owners, we typically buy goods and services from non-Black businesses every day. And because we are subjected to micro and macro aggressions daily, we generally become desensitized to the poor treatment that we receive when we shop at some of these businesses. This is especially true the more “Black” we sound or look, because it happens so consistently that we just “toughen up” to it.
Up until a couple of years ago, I would shop at businesses where I received treatment ranging anywhere from rushed to impatient to passive/aggressive rudeness, or any combination of these. One day my husband and I were discussing the latest instance of discriminatory service he received at a local restaurant where we often bought barbecue ribs. He explained how he stood there for several minutes in a near empty restaurant. The employees were very slow to take his order or even acknowledge him. This was not the case for other non-Black customers in the store. After finally placing and paying for his order, when he got his order, he checked his food and noted something missing from the order that he normally received. When he inquired about it, he was met with terse and contentious responses. It was at that point that we both resolved never to buy food from them ever again.
We have adopted this practice with countless other businesses since then. Although it is impossible to avoid every business that displays biased or prejudicial behavior, in any situation where we can buy from another place that provides the service that we deserve, we actively do so. We’ve also begun to actively spend our money with high quality Black owned businesses whenever possible.
We’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating over and over: one huge aspect of owning our finances is deciding whom and where we will spend our collective over $1.2 trillion dollars. Black Enterprise stated in “Spending $1.2 Trillion Black Buying Power With Black Businesses” that our buying power was estimated to be $1.2 trillion last year, and is increasing every year – so it’s even higher this year. This is real power. Power that we can use more effectively.
In their piece “2016 Nielsen Report: Black Buying Power Has Reached Tipping Point, But How Will Black America Leverage it to Create Wealth?”, Atlanta Black Star urges we "...must use their resources wisely — reward friends and punish foes accordingly, support Black-owned business and those brands who are in sync with our interests, values and aspirations. People and forces outside of our community want our business, but many will do little to nothing for it, or more importantly, for us, with no investments in our community and no jobs for Black people.”
A few months ago, I called a new restaurant that my husband was interested in ordering from. (You can tell we love to eat, can’t you?). After deciding what we wanted from their online menu, I called them to inquire further about the food. I told the woman who answered that I’d never ordered from them before. I had several detailed questions about the foods of interest. After a couple of minutes, the woman on the phone became dismissive and began rushing me off the phone before she quickly ended the call. As a business owner, I understand the value of allowing customers the opportunity to ask the questions needed to move forward in working with me. I reported the interaction to my husband, who definitively reminded me of our resolution not to give our money to businesses that treat us like our business doesn’t matter. We never considered ordering from them again.
Our self-esteem is impacted by what we allow and accept. In turn, our self-esteem determines how we regard ourselves and everything we do. If our self-esteem is low, we don’t insist on receiving high quality treatment. And every time we buy from companies that act like we don’t matter while taking our hard-earned dollars, we’re confirming that this is what we deserve. My new motto is: “I no longer pay people to treat me badly. I will instead spend my money at high quality companies (preferably Black) that value me as a customer whenever possible.” I deserve the best. And so do you.
*What are your thoughts? Have you experienced anything similar? Leave me a comment below.
About Yolanda Ransom
Yolanda Ransom is a certified Financial Coach & Consultant who empowers clients to confidently master new money management skills, resulting in improved finances and financial stability. She is the CEO of Yolanda Ransom Consulting and provides personal finance coaching and training to individuals and groups. You can find out more about her and working with her at yolandaransom.com.