Portland observer. (Portland, Or.) 1970-current, March 23, 2016, CAREERS SPECIAL EDITION, Page Page 6, Image 6

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CAREER special
Page 6
March 23, 2016
Opinion articles do not necessarily represent the views of the
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Reaping the Dividends of Entrepreneurship
The color of
m arC h. m orial
Sarah Breedlove
was born to share-
croppers on a plan-
tation in Louisiana.
known to millions as
Madam C.J. Walker—died on her
beloved four-and-a-half acre es-
tate overlooking the Hudson River
in Irvington, N.Y. At the time of
her death, Madam Walker’s estate
was worth close to $6 million in
today’s dollars—making her one
of the most successful, self-made
business women of the 20th cen-
tury. Asked how she got her start,
Madam Walker is said to have fa-
mously answered, “I got my start
by giving myself a start.”
Entrepreneurship is deeply em-
bedded in our American DNA. It
can take a woman from the Jim
Crow era cotton plantations of the
South to the pinnacle of American
business success. And entrepre-
neurship’s benefits extend
further than the heart and
mind of the man or woman
possessed with the dream of
owning their own business.
Entrepreneurship is an inspi-
ration and an opportunity that
can be shared. It is a driver of
the American economy and
has the potential to provide new
economic opportunity to local—
and even distressed—communi-
Nationally, the number of firms
owned by people of color is on
the rise. According to the latest
small business survey conducted
by the U.S. Census Bureau, mi-
nority-company ownership is up
from 5.8 million in 2007 to eight
million in 2012.
This includes a 46 percent in-
crease in Hispanic ownership; a 34
percent rise in the number of Afri-
can-American owned businesses;
an almost 24 percent increase for
Asians; and a 27 percent increase
in firms owned by women. And as
the growth in minority-company
ownership booms, so do its job
numbers. It is estimated that mi-
nority-owned companies provide
seven million jobs and companies
owned by women employ up to
eight million workers.
To save our struggling cities, we
cannot solely rely on getting jobs.
To strengthen our streets we must
be on the forefront of creating jobs
and economic opportunities. The
National Urban League has cre-
ated the Entrepreneurship Center,
a signature program to foster the
growth of minority-owned busi-
nesses and offer business owners
the resources they need to grow
their bottom line.
Through counseling, mentoring
and training services, the National
Urban League’s Entrepreneurship
centers work with owners to de-
velop management skills that will
help their businesses obtain fi-
nancing that supports job creation
and preservation. By improving
their strategies, the centers have
helped over ten thousand busi-
ness owners experience increased
competitiveness and profitability,
start their businesses with high-
er survival rates and break out to
new markets and higher growth.
To date, the center has helped en-
trepreneurs create or save close to
1,200 jobs and get more than $73
million in new contracts and cap-
As women and people of color
continue to create and own record
numbers of businesses, the buying
power of communities of color
continues to grow exponentially.
According to the latest Multicul-
tural Economy Report from the
Selig center, Hispanic buying
power leads all groups at $1.3 tril-
lion and black buying power has
seen an 86 percent increase with
their buying power rising to $1.1
trillion. Yet, how many of those
trillions of dollars stay within our
economically disadvantaged com-
An NAACP study found that a
dollar in circulates in Asian com-
munities for 30 days, as opposed to
six hours in Black communities. It
found that only two cents of every
dollar African Americans spend
goes to black-owned businesses.
One researcher estimated that if
black consumers spent at least one
dollar out of every 10 with black
businesses, it could generate one
million jobs for African Ameri-
cans. Minority buying power can
do far more than purchase; it can
become an investment in stronger,
local communities.
Buying black is more than just
a slogan. When you buy black you
help assure black business growth.
And, when you shore up black
business growth, you play your
part in helping to revitalize the
communities where those busi-
nesses reside.
Marc H. Morial is president
and chief executive officer of the
National Urban League.
Illustrating Aspects of American Inequality
Often, there is
no fair start
m arian W right
e delman
The Harvard Gazette
has released a series of
articles on inequality in
America. They describe
Harvard University scholars’ ef-
forts across a range of disciplines
to identify and understand this
nation-defining and dividing con-
cern and possible solutions.
The first piece in the series
opens: “It’s a seemingly nonde-
script chart, buried in a Harvard
Business School professor’s aca-
demic paper. A rectangle, divided
into parts, depicts U.S. wealth for
each fifth of the popu-
lation. But it appears to
show only three divi-
sions. The bottom two,
representing the accu-
mulated wealth of 124
million people, are so
small that they almost
don’t even show up.
Other charts in other journals
illustrate different aspects of
American inequality. They might
depict income, housing quality,
rates of imprisonment, or levels
of political influence, but they all
look very much the same. Per-
haps most damning are those that
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reflect opportunity — whether
involving education, health, race,
or gender — because the inequity
represented there belies our na-
tional identity.
America, we believe, is a land
where everyone gets a fair start
and then rises or falls according
to his or her own talent and indus-
try. But if you’re poor, if you’re
uneducated, if you’re black, if
you’re Hispanic, if you’re a wom-
an, there often is no fair start.”
The article notes that inequal-
ity has become a national buzz-
word and a political cause célèbre
in this election year,” in part be-
cause across so many measures
it is on the rise. Harvard-trained
historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson
was focused on a particular as-
pect of inequality when he found-
ed Negro History Week — the
precursor to Black History Month
— 90 years ago.
Dr. Woodson was especially
concerned about the “mis-educa-
tion” of black children from their
earliest ages — “The thought
of the inferiority of the Negro
is drilled into him in almost ev-
ery class he enters and in almost
every book he studies” — and
the cumulative effects it could
have: “When you control a man’s
thinking you do not have to wor-
ry about his actions. You do not
have to tell him not to stand here
or go yonder. He will find his
‘proper place’ and will stay in it.
You do not need to send him to
the back door. He will go with-
out being told. In fact, if there is
no back door, he will cut one for
his special benefit. His education
makes it necessary.”
Dr. Woodson believed teach-
ing children about black history
and black accomplishments were
a crucial corrective step. We now
understand the wisdom behind
teaching not just black children
but all children black history
just as we make sure all of our
American stories are being told
as we prepare our next genera-
tions for our multicultural nation
and world. Although Black His-
tory Month is over, every month
should be Black and Native Amer-
ican and Latino and Asian Ameri-
can and Women’s and Non-Prop-
ertied Men’s History Month.
Black History Month has
helped infuse more multicul-
tural attention in American ed-
ucation, but there is still a big
struggle ahead to ensure children
are taught the truth in schools in
every subject including history,
geography and literature. A mis-
leading McGraw-Hill geography
textbook called American slaves
“workers from Africa” and the
evil slave trade just one of many
“patterns of immigration.” We
must vigilantly monitor and chal-
lenge false history, geography
and literature that sugarcoats and
mischaracterizes the horrors of
slavery, lynchings and institu-
tional racism.
As scholars watch American
inequality’s continual rise, black
children and other children of
color remain disproportionately
at risk of inferior status, discrim-
ination and racial disparities in
measure after measure. We must
challenge anyone training any of
our children to go around to the
back door — yet too often we are
still leaving some children out-
side it. This must stop.
We should remember that
for so many black children and
youths each day in America, there
is too little to celebrate.
Every day in America we can
and must do better and combat
systemic, cultural, economic, and
educational inequality — hid-
den and overt. There is no more
urgent problem in America than
inequality and its many proge-
ny manifested in our education,
health, and criminal justice sys-
tems and in all aspects of Amer-
ican life.
This is the time to face the
truth and to do something about
our divided nation. We must all
change the odds stacked against
poor and non-white children so
that every child in America has
an equal opportunity to achieve
and succeed.
Marian Wright Edelman is
president of the Children’s De-
fense Fund.