THIS ONE’S FOR EVERYONE
What you need to know about Black History Month
Monday kicked off Black History Month in America and Canada. And following a year of racial justice protests, brands celebrating need to get it right.
And that starts by understanding what it’s all about, why it’s important, what resources are available to Black business leaders, and common mistakes that white-owned brands make.
What’s the purpose of Black History Month?
Black History Month celebrates Black American’s contributions to society and raises awareness of Black history.
It was first celebrated in 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson grew frustrated with the underrepresentation of Black accomplishments in American history. But at the time, it was just a week-long celebration that happened the second week of February.
Exactly 50 years later, the week-long event officially became Black History Month, under President Ford. And it has been observed in the US and Canada every February since. And more recently, in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the UK as well.
But this year, leading DEI organizations (like Collective) are challenging us to swap Black History Month for Black Heritage Month. And in the process, go beyond celebrating the past – and recognize that the impact Black people make on society is ongoing.
And we’re up for the challenge! So, from now on, we’ll be referring to February as Black Heritage Month (or BHM for short).
What does BHM have to do with small business?
Today, over 2.6M US businesses are Black-owned. A more than 117% increase from the 1.2M Black-owned businesses in 2002.
But compared to their white counterparts, Black people are still underrepresented in entrepreneurship. For example, Black people represent 12.8% of the US population, but only 9.4% of all US business owners.
Black business owners also tend to see lower revenue, less access to funding, and fewer employees.
Meaning, the challenges that come with entrepreneurship – like scaling – are exponentially compounded by racial and institutional barriers. Making it more difficult for a Black entrepreneur to succeed in business.
Why you should care – regardless of your racial identity
Simply put, our communities and economies can’t thrive unless everyone within it is thriving. So, when Black entrepreneurs and business leaders are left out of the narratives, can’t secure funding, or lack access to opportunities, we all pay the cost.
Resources for American Black business leaders
- USBC offers an extensive network to Black business owners and leaders
- Black Founder List is an initiative to create a network around Black-founded, venture-backed companies in the US
- BEAM provides emotional and mental health resources to help heal Black individuals and communities
- Black Founders is working to increase the number of successful Black leaders in the tech space
- By Black is a growing directory of Black-owned businesses
- Black Girl Ventures is creating access to capital for Black female founders
- Transparent Collective assists Black entrepreneurs as they raise funding
- Backstage Capital invests exclusively in women, BIPOC and LGBTQ founded startups
3 tips for white-owned businesses celebrating BHM
- Recognize Black history doesn’t end when the calendar hits March 1.Meaning, don’t look at BHM as a marketing opportunity. Instead, focus on how you continue celebrating all year.
- Prioritize Black people and their stories in your BHM content. For example, give Black leaders a spotlight on your platforms and ask them to share their stories first-hand.
- If you’re going to speak, be prepared to act. Meaning, you need to hold your brand accountable for upholding the beliefs you share and promises you make during BHM.
AND THE WINNER IS…
Quick follow-up on last week’s newsletter
Congratulations, Carolann Whitesell from LUHV Food, for winning our Clubhouse invite! (We’ll connect offline later today to get you into the app.)
And thanks to everyone for letting us know what you’d like to see in upcoming newsletters! Your answers make sure we only roundup the best, most relevant resources. (Have more ideas? Drop us a line – we’d love to hear them!)
P.S. Already on Clubhouse? Join the Trainual team this Friday at 5 pm EST to share your “scale or fail” stories. AKA the fumbles from trying to do it all and the wins you had when you grew your team.
Other news you’ll want to know
- Last week, amateur traders made a fool of the traditional finance industry, using Gamestop stocks. And the after-effects of the fiasco are still nowhere near over.
- 4 marketing trendsetters share their free (or next to free) strategies for getting your message through the noise.
- Bumble’s IPO swipes right on women. On Valentine’s day, CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd will be one of the few women to take their company public – and the youngest at 31.
- Facebook has more beef with Apple’s new privacy features. And Tim Cook just straight-up burned Mark Zuckerburg with his comebacks.
- In an unexpected twist, Jeff Bezos stepped down as Amazon CEO after finishing 2020 with record quarterly sales.