AFRICANGLOBE – The African American community is in a state of crisis, according to the Delmarva Black Chamber of Commerce president.
In response to what he calls the “self-destructive” spending habits of African Americans, Clayton Hammond recently started a campaign to convince African Americans to spend their money on Black-owned businesses.
“The Black community has an annual buying power of $4 billion,” Hammond said. “The problem with Black buying power in Delaware is that it’s exercised without focus or discipline.”
If successful, Hammond said, his project will lead to more jobs and create opportunities for Black youths. This, in turn, will cut crime in the Black community, he added.
“We know how selling drugs is going to end – you end up in jail or dead,” he said. “But it’s because there are limited economic opportunities out there.”
One of the reasons African Americans struggle is because their buying power isn’t as concentrated in the community as it once was Hammond said.
“Your pool [of Black businesses] would be very small,” said Kim Adams, owner of Mountain Consulting, a project management and engineering company in Dover. “There just aren’t a lot of Black businesses.”
Adams said the most important factor, for her, when she does business is if they can get the job done.
“A lot of businesses, oftentimes, don’t have the right credentials,” she said. “I find that’s sometimes the problem in trying to do business with any small business – not just Black businesses.”
Hammond agrees African American-owned businesses can be hard to find, which is why the Chamber of Commerce is developing an online directory of Black businesses. He expects it to be released in November.
Meanwhile, Hammond plans to use Black fraternities, sororities, and churches to help get the initiative’s message out. The churches will also be handing out self-tracking forms to keep track of where people spend their money.
Theo Morgan, owner of Computers Fixed Today on Loockerman Street, said he respects Hammond’s intentions but said it’s going to be a challenging endeavor.
“He’s trying to do something strong so that some of the kids in difficulty or stress situations have an opportunity to look forward to,” Morgan said. “But at the end of the day, just trying to mobilize that audience to support that initiative is taking a great leap of faith. You’re going to run into declared opposition.”
Jeffrey Humphreys works with the Simon S. Selig Jr. Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia. He wrote the study that concluded blacks in Delaware have a spending power of $4 billion.
“Here’s the challenge: most people, whether they’re Black, white, or Asian, are trying to maximize the value of their spending,” he said. “So they gravitate towards value-driven providers such as Walmart.
“Those kinds of companies are not Black or white; they’re just owned by stockholders.”
Hammond said he understands the challenges associated with his campaign, but is confident in its ability to produce results.
“We just have to get past the adage that a lot of Black folks think that Black businesses offer inferior services, which is not the case,” he said. “We can do this if we’re serious about coming together as a community.”