#RestaurantGrowth: Why Black History Month is the Perfect Time to Discuss Issues Eating the Restaurant Industry from Within
Food Tribe is a 360 restaurant technology platform connecting good people to good food. Our #RestaurantGrowth campaign is focused on helping restaurant owners and operators run better businesses in 2019 and beyond.
The Restaurant Industry Meets Black History Month
Today’s society is highlighted by a tumultuous political climate and stark economic instability among different classes and demographics.
The rise in social media has resulted in so many hot button issues bubbling to the surface, forcing all of us to deal with them and address issues that have long since been ignored.
One of those issues is systemic racism, a topic so near and dear to the hearts of everyone with a heart that plays a particularly crucial role in the plight of the minority business owner.
In honor of Black History Month and as a company founded by a black entrepreneur, Food Tribe is all about pioneering change and being part of the solution instead of the problem - and this is one of the restaurant industry’s biggest problems.
The Restaurant Opportunity Center United (ROC) conducted extensive research in 2015 via a report that detailed the inner workings of the restaurant industry in Seattle, one of America’s fastest growing cities.
The data featured 524 worker surveys and 15 interviews of restaurant workers in the greater Seattle area. The data showed that women of color make $4 less per hour than white men. It also found that people of color are much more common in fast food restaurants while being underrepresented in fine dining establishments.
People of color more frequently occupy “Tier II” jobs such as bussing, hosting, dishwashing, food prep, and other similar lines of work.
The gender and racial pay gaps are undeniable.
This is not unique to the Seattle area. This is a rampant issue throughout the entire restaurant industry, and we cannot turn a blind eye to it.
There are many reasons to support black businesses and the benefits it has, and we’re going to go into a few of them in honor of Black History Month.
Boost the Economy
Supporting black businesses boosts the economy within the black community. Frederick Douglass once said that who you give your money to is who you give power to, and we all know that McDonald’s and the bevy of chain restaurants out there do not need any more power.
We all must have the mindset to support one another instead of feeling like we are in direct competition with anybody but ourselves.
One restaurant winning does not mean another restaurant has to lose. We all gotta eat!
Black people make up 13% of the population, but account for only 7% of businesses.
Why is that?
For one, blacks are much less likely to receive bank loans compared to white entrepreneurs, and the ones that do often receive higher interest rates.
On the other side of the coin, 99% of the 1.3-trillion dollar buying power the black community has is spent outside the black community. Other communities and demographics spend drastically more money within their own communities compared to blacks because it is not as easy to find black-owned businesses nearby. The troubling aspect is when we actually do find a black business nearby to support, but instead choose to not give them our business anyway.
That is why we need change. Buying black is so important especially considering how uncommon it is. Keeping dollars within the community is the only way to ensure black-owned businesses thrive over time.
This is the same Shaq who makes sneakers that can be sold in Wal-Mart and Payless, while Michael Jordan can be quoted as saying, “I make shoes for white Suburban kids, not the poor black kids.
That would be like opening a restaurant for people without stomachs.”
Which leads right into our next point...
Those numbers we outlined earlier are startling. The black community already has a hard enough time getting in the door, but once they get there they have to face significant pay gaps and unfavorable working environments.
In 2014, the U.S. unemployment rate was 7.8%, but the rate of unemployed black people was 13.8%. Even black college graduates were unemployed at a rate of 12.4%.
A black job candidate will often not receive a job offer simply due to the color of their skin or the name on their resume. As troubling as this is, it’s even tougher to wrap your head around the fact that things were exactly this way as long as 30 years ago.
The solution is simple. Supporting black businesses allows them to stay in business, ensuring that the unemployment rate in the black community isn’t so high. We all must keep this in mind.
It Ensures The Community Always Has Help
If a member of the black community needs financial help, they will most often turn to small black-owned businesses, and particularly local churches which are oftentimes the most powerful institution in the black community.
Churches are an extension of family in most small communities, and without ensuring the local businesses stay intact, we don’t ensure that churches and organizations have any legs to stand on.
This plays right into the trust gap, and is part of the reason the black community doesn’t spend money as often within its own community as compared with other demographics.
The local organizations and churches will always have the community’s back. Black households holding their cards closer to their chests makes sense given the societal circumstances they face, but by learning to increase their trust within the community it will improve the health of the black economy.
Think about how much better your local taqueria is than Taco Bell, or how much tastier the local ramen spot is than those sodium specials known as Cup O’ Noodles. For whatever reason, this way of thinking goes out the window when it comes to the black community.
Let’s all keep this in mind not just for Black History Month, but for every month. Supporting local black businesses is not important for 28 days. It’s a forever type of thing. Every part of the economy needs to thrive, and supporting black businesses goes a long way.