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Should We Give A Pass To Black Businesses That Discriminate?
Published:
10/16/2013 4:30:43 PM


By Barney Blakeney



For the past couple of days I’ve unsuccessfully been trying to confirm information that the owners of two local business establishments distinguished in recent high profile racially charged incidents are owned by Blacks.

But does it really matter?

A couple of months ago a local Black man took his case to the social media after his group of family and friends were discriminated against at the Wild Wing Cafe in North Charleston.

And two weeks ago the bishop of the S.C. Seventh Episcopal District of the AME Church said he was discriminated against at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in downtown Charleston.

In both incidents, individuals in decision making positions created situations that painted their employers’ institutions in the hue of discrimination.

The fellas at the King Street watering hole had a lot to say about all of that.

One guy, I forget whether it was the Old Man or Mr. B, reminded us that Black people discriminate against other Blacks. Discrimination ain’t always racial.

Black people discriminate against each other for all kinds of reasons. Some Black folks talk trash about young Black girls having babies with no thought about keeping a man except to make the babies.

And the same way other folks discriminate between the haves and the have nots, Black folks do too.

And then there’s that light skin/dark skin thing we don’t want to talk about anymore.

Discrimination within races is not new, but as Black folks began to move into better socio-economic positions in this country, many of us have been deluded by a false perception that just because some Black folks moved into positions of power, things would change as far as racial discrimination against us is concerned.

One of the guys at the watering hole also noted that some Black business owners only see the green in the color of money.

They put a white face in front of their businesses because that’s the primary clientele they want to attract. A Black business that looks Black owned often is a liability. And everyone knows wherever white folks spend their money, Black folks with money also will spend theirs.

So some Black owned businesses are indistinguishable from those owned by whites. In theory, I think that’s a good thing. Where I have problems is how those Black owners conduct business.

I think Black business owners have an obligation to insure that their businesses are conducted in an unbiased fashion, that the vestiges of discrimination are eliminated.

Just as many of us in South Carolina expect Gov. Nikki Haley to recognize that her Indian ancestry puts her in a unique position to address the inequalities and disparities faced by those in the state subjected to racial discrimination, I think Black business owners have that same obligation.

I just saw an old movie, “Hitler’s SS: Portrait in Evil”, the story of a German family in which one member was an SS officer. He tried to save friends and family members by using his influence. He was able to pull some strings for a few people close to him, but ultimately the Nazi system destroyed everything he held dear.

When I look back at slavery, Jim Crow and what I think is becoming a new order of subjugation for Black folks in America, I’m convinced that Black folks in positions of power tell themselves the lie that they can change the system from within.

Wrong.

The system is corrupt.

We must change the system!

One of the guys at the watering hole, in response to a suggestion Blacks boycott the two Black owned businesses being scrutinized about their perceived discrimination, offered that a boycott would only hurt other Black people.

Someone responded asking, if a white man cuts off one of your hands and a Black man cuts off the other hand which man caused the most injury?

Should Black folks in power get a pass when they are responsible for discrimination against others of their race? I don’t think so.

I think we need to hold those folks’ feet to the fire.

Whether they work in business, politics, religion, education or anywhere else. If you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem.

Black folks made a lot of progress over the past 75 years or so, but as it has been throughout the history of America, some people are working hard to maintain a privileged class.

The struggle cannot stop because some folks made it to the top. We should hold everyone accountable.

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