Our Black Year: One Family's Quest to Buy Black in America's Racially Divided Economy [NOOK Book]

Overview


Maggie and John Anderson were successful African American professionals raising two daughters in a tony suburb of Chicago. But they felt uneasy over their good fortune. Most African Americans live in economically starved neighborhoods. Black wealth is about one tenth of white wealth, and black businesses lag behind businesses of all other racial groups in every measure of success. One problem is that black consumers--unlike consumers of other ethnicities-- choose not to support black-owned businesses. At the ...
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Our Black Year: One Family's Quest to Buy Black in America's Racially Divided Economy

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Overview


Maggie and John Anderson were successful African American professionals raising two daughters in a tony suburb of Chicago. But they felt uneasy over their good fortune. Most African Americans live in economically starved neighborhoods. Black wealth is about one tenth of white wealth, and black businesses lag behind businesses of all other racial groups in every measure of success. One problem is that black consumers--unlike consumers of other ethnicities-- choose not to support black-owned businesses. At the same time, most of the businesses in their communities are owned by outsiders.

On January 1, 2009 the Andersons embarked on a year-long public pledge to "buy black." They thought that by taking a stand, the black community would be mobilized to exert its economic might. They thought that by exposing the issues, Americans of all races would see that economically empowering black neighborhoods benefits society as a whole. Instead, blacks refused to support their own, and others condemned their experiment. Drawing on economic research and social history as well as her personal story, Maggie Anderson shows why the black economy continues to suffer and issues a call to action to all of us to do our part to reverse this trend.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
What began as a 90-day project to “Buy Black” became a year-long project (2009–2010) and a foundation promoting black entrepreneurship for a Chicago couple, Maggie and John Anderson. They tried to get through the year patronizing only African-American businesses, “to document what products and services we could and could not find.” While this book shows them living their lives with social difficulties (what should one do if invited to a friend’s party thrown in a white establishment?) and emotional crises (a terminally ill parent, stressed friendships), the primary focus is on their foundation—its history, hard times, and highlights of the “Empowerment Experiment.” In merging the details of their effort—checking out establishments, getting celebrity endorsements, black business history, and multiple statistics—the book becomes repetitive, overwritten, and more tiresome than its dynamite subject deserves: “How insane is it that we couldn’t find a Black-owned store in all of Chicagoland with a consistent supply of fruits and vegetables?” If Anderson’s book gets readers to wrestle with that question, it will have done a good enough job to make what is largely a business history an effective probe into how African-Americans spend so much money that flows so overwhelmingly out of their community. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

Alfred Edmond Jr., Senior Vice President/Multimedia Editor-at-Large, Black Enterprise and host of the syndicated radio feature Money Matters on American Urban Radio Networks
“Both heart-wrenching reality check and urgent call to action, Our Black Year: One Family's Quest to Buy Black in America's Racially Divided Economy is an inspiring and often mind-bending case study of what it takes to make self-help economics a reality of day-to-day living for African Americans. The economic odyssey of the Anderson family is nothing short of heroic. If you care at all about making the American Dream a reality for ALL Americans, you must read this book, and apply the lessons and learnings of The Empowerment Experiment that inspired it, to your own life and spending choices. Besides that, it is simply a fantastic read!" 

Cathy Hughes, Founder/Chairperson, Radio/TV One, Inc.
"Thank God for this level of commitment to our Black Community. I observed that year with great interest and pride and am so grateful to the Anderson's for this incredible documentation of what we all could do, if we just made up our minds to do it. Big, big, big Kudos have been earned by Maggie and her family!"

Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League
“Any serious attempt to close the racial wealth gap and build Black American wealth, must better leverage the trillion dollars of buying power controlled by the Black American consumer. In Our Black Year, Maggie Anderson offers a clear, cogent and intensely personal view of one family’s journey to do just this. An important book that provides a path for others to follow.”

Publishers Weekly, November 14, 2011
“Dynamite subject…an effective probe into how African-Americans spend so much money that flows so overwhelmingly out of their community”

Library Journal
“Anderson’s book successfully illuminates the roadblocks faced by black business owners and the racial divide that continues to persist in the U.S. economy.”

BookPage
Our Black Year is a blistering, honest journal of the Andersons’ efforts to buy black, and those efforts can only be described as Herculean… A brisk call to action, offering clear-eyed perspective on how African Americans got to where they are today and what they can do to support black business owners. In Maggie Anderson’s eyes, it’s a moral imperative.”
 
Huntington News
"Our Black Year is an eye-opening book that should be read by anyone interested in the nation's racial and economic divide.”

Dave Ross, daily commentator for the CBS Radio Network and former Democratic nominee for Congress
"Berezow and Campbell provide a convenient retelling of progressive excesses, reminding us that the real enemy of progress is the refusal even to entertain a sincerely-held opposing view. But with fundraising the lifeblood of all political groups, each side must manufacture an enemy, and lock themselves in a lucrative (but dysfunctional) embrace. The book concludes with practical compromises, and an appeal for all sides to embrace the scientific method, even when it challenges their orthodoxy."

Library Journal
As the title indicates, this is the story of Anderson's quest to spend a year in which she and her family would patronize only black-owned businesses. The former McDonald's executive, now cofounder/CEO of a foundation for "promoting self-help economics," Anderson chronicles the rewarding moments, shocking revelations, and life-changing impact of what proved to be a surprisingly difficult commitment. Less radical than Mike Yankoski's experiment with homelessness (Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America) and more personal than Xavier de Souza Briggs and others' Moving to Opportunity: The Story of an American Experiment To Fight Ghetto Poverty, Anderson's book successfully illuminates the roadblocks faced by black business owners and the racial divide that continues to persist in the U.S. economy. VERDICT Part journal, part investigative paper, this book will appeal to students of sociology and economics as well as those looking for inspiration to effect positive change in their communities.—Sara Holder, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal
Kirkus Reviews
An African-American couple in a Chicago neighborhood pledged to spend 2009 patronizing black-owned businesses; they discovered that this was no easy task. With the aid of Pulitzer Prize–winning Chicago Tribune journalist Gregory, business-strategy consult Anderson narrates the story of their decision and how they struggled to carry it out. The book also covers the author's launch of a self-help economics movement while raising two young daughters and caring for a dying mother. While an appendix prepared by faculty and students at the Kellogg School of Management details the relevant statistics about the Andersons' expenditures and black spending power and entrepreneurship, it is the personal story of the challenges faced by the Andersons that brings those figures to life. Just finding well-run black-owned businesses was a time-consuming chore, and finding ones that managed to stay in business was even more so. Anderson was forced to drive to poor, rundown neighborhoods and to shop in stores that didn't stock fresh meat and produce, healthful foods, needed household products or clothing for her growing daughters. Adding insult to injury, following her public appearances to promote her black-empowerment message, vicious hate mail from both blacks and whites attacked her motives. The author's frustrations and disappointments—as well as hope—are the central focus, but there is a larger story at play. Anderson looks at the reasons for the present conditions, putting them in perspective with some history of self-help efforts in the 19th century, black cooperatives of the early 20th century and the effects of the civil-rights movement on black-owned businesses. An epilogue describes the plan for the Empowerment Experiment Foundation research center to study and document the effects of the self-help movement. Effectively highlights the economic disparity between blacks and whites and dramatizes the challenges facing those who would close the gap.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610390255
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 2/14/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 332,388
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

As CEO and cofounder of The Empowerment Experiment Foundation, Maggie Anderson has become the leader of a self-help economics movement that supports quality black businesses and urges consumers, especially other middle and upper class African Americans, to proactively and publicly support them. She has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and CBS Morning News, among many other national television and radio shows. She received her BA from Emory University and her JD and MBA from the University of Chicago. She lives in Oak Park, Illinois, with her husband, John, and their two daughters. Ted Gregory is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Chicago Tribune.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 3, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved it!

    I truly prayed for a more inspiring ending (regarding the black businesses identified by the authors) However, the book succeeded in getting my family to be more conscious of the number of times we 'stumble' across a necessary black-owned establishment. I've bought plenty of copies for my friends and family members.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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