edition CAREER special Page 6 O PINION March 23, 2016 Opinion articles do not necessarily represent the views of the Portland Observer. We welcome reader essays, photos and story ideas. Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org. Reaping the Dividends of Entrepreneurship The color of money m arC h. m orial Sarah Breedlove was born to share- croppers on a plan- tation in Louisiana. Breedlove—later 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 by 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- ties. 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- ital. 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- munities? 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- by 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 Providing Insurance and Financial Services Home Office, Bloomington, Illinois 61710 Ernest J. Hill, Jr. Agent 4946 N. Vancouver Avenue, Portland, OR 97217 503 286 1103 Fax 503 286 1146 email@example.com 24 Hour Good Neighbor Service R State Farm R 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.