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”
“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.”
“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.”
"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."
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
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.