“African-Americans currently populate 60% of Montgomery, Alabama, the heart of the civil rights movement. 28.5% own their own business and more than 85% are living in poverty…something is missing.”
When riding around through the city of Montgomery I would like you to notice something. Whether it’s dining, nightlife, or shopping, take a moment to look around and to reflect on how much Black culture that you see and hear of daily, maybe even weekly. The type you don’t have to search for, hear about from another Black person, or go on a specific Facebook page to find information surrounding it. How many businesses can you think of that are easily accessible and well known if you choose to shop at a Black owned business on a whim for something as simple as groceries? If we, as African-Americans chose to go on strike and shop ONLY BLACK in our city…how effective do you believe it would be? Keeping in mind that it would mean, protesting all that is not Black owned or created, which would mean transportation, food, attire, and even down to the importance of your cell phone. We would be homeless, without a car, and without many basic necessities we depend on, but are distributed only through White businesses.
I believe it to be a redundant contradiction that we choose to live in a city where change and the freedom to be great as an African-American should be the most embraced, but appears to be practically nonexistent. The culture and the determination should be loud and saturate the streets of Montgomery, not only for it’s citizens, but for those who visit a location known for it’s deep history in the Black culture. Instead we battle the uncontrollable plight of gentrification when it comes to housing and the placement of Black businesses in the region.
The impact of revenue generated when we “Buy Black” would not only help build a city that deserves to be truly recognized for Black culture and business, but one that possesses the majority of that culture. The answers have been in front of us for decades and continue to remain apparent when it comes to supporting our own, it just isn’t being done.
The worst observation I’ve come to notice since moving to Montgomery is the abundance of complaints, sabotage, and crime against one another pitted against the lack of knowledge, support and humility we have given each other to succeed as a team. I am ready to stop the constant jealousy and hate we have toward each other that has only ruined blessings and opportunities we need to create. When one of us achieves success in owning a steady flowing business, it’s always disappointing to ask that in individual how they created that path, what steps they took, and what they plan to do with those steps to create a foundation of anything. We rarely give the real answers which could help our people become equally or more successful than we are and instead have been selfishly basking in that information without spreading it to others. This will always be our downfall.
There has been a constant struggle within us when it comes to providing genuine support. As an author, I have received questions surrounding discounts for my books and even receiving a book completely free…only from Black people…MY people. Being completely unaware of how much sweat, tears, and sleepless nights go into chasing your dreams is one thing; but to look one of your own people in the face in an attempt to low ball their ability to carryout that mission is an insult. It is what I would like to focus my attention on eliminating in 2020.
My vision is to highlight and promote each Black owned business, beginning with the city of Montgomery, and then journeying to other Civil Rights locations in Alabama; such as Selma, Tuskegee, and Huntsville. Reputable Black owned businesses have been serving our community for as many as 10-20 years, operating mainly under regular clientele and word of mouth. What if we could boost their reputations by not only spreading the word to those who may not have experienced their services before, but also ensure anyone who visits and tours the city of Montgomery has more access to them and their information?
The truth is that I discovered the longest running businesses are owned by those we would see as our grandparents, middle-aged aunts and uncles, and what I also call “social media apethists”. They have absolutely no interest in social media and barely know where to start when it comes to using it as a tool for promotion of their business to the masses. They sometimes simply don’t feel they need it, and most of the time they don’t; but what about those that do? Magazines such as Gump Town Magazine and In City Mag are great literary sources in Montgomery, AL that provide information on many Black owned business in the area, including those in Prattville, Wetumpa, and Millbrook. There are Facebook pages, websites, and flyers, but it’s 2020 and we deserve an app that truly celebrates us by highlighting the experience that was gained when visiting their establishment. Several years ago there were articles that ranked Montgomery, AL as number two for having the most Black owned businesses in the nation. If we still hold the title, why do things seem a little too silent around here?
The apps surrounding Black owned businesses and accessing their information, including finding their locations have already been released and become successful in helping “Buy Black” but I find it to a certain extent. Once a business is logged into the app, it even incorporates GPS to assist in directing you to a Black owned business, as well as giving a notification when it’s nearby. Black owned businesses are at your fingertips and categorized by their fields and specialties on several free downloadable apps, such Official Black Wall Street, WeBuyBlack.com, and Afroworld.
So, I decided to give them a try and see just how many businesses would pop up in Montgomery, Alabama; since categories such as hair, MUA, lawn and maintenance, and restaurants are included. Each search result produced “NO RESULTS” for Montgomery and in order for Black owned businesses to be included, they would have to visit the website themselves and enter their information to be featured. There is a $50 one time fee to join and enter your business, which seems fair for the upkeep and cost to run the app while helping promote businesses. The website WeBuyBlack is actually for those who would like to earn revenue in selling Black owned products. For $30 it helps you set up a vendor account and earn commission with your own online store selling specific products where 10% is earned by WeBuyBlack and 90% is given to the seller. Not bad.
I’m all for sites promoting Black owned businesses, but this year what I would like to put my primary focus and energy into specifically is the promotion and awareness of Black owned business in the city of Montgomery and how we can become better in creating more revenue in our communities to help eliminate poverty and provide better support for our neighborhoods and our schools. Through my non-profit Harmonious Grace, Inc, I would like to start with creating a website and a book that is similar to a “Green Book”. A Green Book, also known as The Negro Motorist Green Book, like the movie, it was a written record of business that are Black owned or Black “friendly” during the time of Jim Crow laws and segregation. Although we are no longer battling segregation or Jim Crow, we still battle the silence of how amazing doing business with African-Americans can feel! I would like to create a website and eventually an app that provides information and locations about reputable Black owned business in Montgomery, the difference being that I will personally interview each business, enter their information and ensure that most if not all reputable Black owned businesses operating in Montgomery are featured. These businesses should be easily accessible and found on ANY website promoting Black owned business and revenue without having to do all of the work they are unaware they need to do in the first place.
We are a city who’s streets bear the struggle and the fight for us to be treated equal, vote, and even receive the right to sit and eat where we please as human beings. Black History Month is slowly approaching and I’m sure there will be the dozens of programs promoting positive Black history, parades, business expos, and future plans for African-Americans to have a better presence in Montgomery. I’d like to be one of those not only speaking of change, but making that change happen for the better. My journey will begin with touring the city of Montgomery during the next several months to interview Black owned businesses about their history, the reason they started, how long they’ve been in business and what their plans are for the future. This information will then be compiled to a website focusing on Montgomery and generating more revenue where it should be, in the Black Community. Following my project, I am will be working hard to ensure all businesses will be accessible through an app that is free to download and directs all tourist and residents to Black owned businesses throughout the city. There are entirely too many that are not included on websites or highlighted by social media.
If you know of any Black owned businesses that have provided great services or products to your life and deserve to be feature, please send them to my direct email at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment directly beneath this post. I plan to interview each business, no matter the location in Montgomery or the service! Thank you for your help and your continued support for all that I strive to do! It’s now time that we strive together.
The President of the United States stood there irritated and lost in thought as, Louis Thorington, the head of “The Survs” stood in the center of The Oval Office and reported back to him the news about Dr. Hartley that he did not expect. He stared out of the window and listened intently without response.
“She’s uh…she’s escaped and disappeared off the grid again sir. Last location was in Rome, Italy until she killed two of our officers and escaped through a hotel window. We are working hard to track her location and send more officers to bring her back…um Mr. President.” Thorington cleared his throat. He stood there in a gray expensive tailored suit, simply dressed with no watch or jewelry and appearing well put together; but his graying dirty blonde hair glistened with sweat and his pale manicured hands were moist as he hid them behind his back and firmly planted his feet. He held a mousy type of appearance that wasn’t as intimidating as it should be for the leader of a group called The Survs that hunt down potential terrorist threats, but his brawn wasn’t why he was chosen. Louis Thorington was one the main creators and programmers of The Surveill-Eye 3000, the reason this was all a success. Thorington had been a brain surgeon and heard the ideas thrown out about a small chip being inserted somewhere into the body in order to control the nation. It began as a mere idea and a dream, then changed into a reality the day Thorington walked into The White House to finally present The Surveill-Eye 3000 after tirelessly crafting it for ten years.
He stood in front of everyone at the White House during a televised press conference about his new invention and the plans to carry it out and complete everyone’s insertion that following year.
“Not only will The Surveill-Eye 3000 keep track of finances, income, and background information, but through the brain sensor, this chip will also possess the ability to detect emotions motivating rage! With this chip we will be able to better eliminate terrorist acts and school shootings by actually seeing the premeditated emotions leading to homicides. Crime rate will be practically non-existent when we involve a special team dedicated to tracking and detaining citizens with these types of issues.”
A Hispanic woman that happened to be a House Representative slowly raised her hand. Thorington pointed to her with a smirk after his statements, knowing that this would raise a lot of skepticism and even rejection, but he was fully prepared to back up and discuss all of his research.
“Isn’t this a little too far? Tapping into the emotions you assume one may have may not necessarily lead to murder or the shooting of an entire building. What if it’s…grief? Or just anger because of the loss of a job? This doesn’t always lead to greater issues and sometimes it has to do with the way someone is mentally able to handle their problem. Seems to me as if you’re saying anyone that gets too emotionally charged would be at risk of a team of strangers coming to their home and detaining them until…what? They calm down? Or a certain amount of assigned prison time? Time out?” She cocked her head as the audience around her chuckled.
Thorington grinned. “Great question, but I do believe you’re looking at it from the wrong point of view. This will allow us to be more safe and not look up at the news to see twenty or more people dead because of a deadly mass shooting. We will tackle the issues once we actually get to them and learn the extent of the emotion one is going through.”
She frowned her face in thought. “So how is that not an inconvenience? Or against someone’s natural rights? You’re not only invading someones brain, emotions, thoughts, and well being, but their entire life as they know it just because they became a little upset. What are we twelve? We’re being indefinitely for detained just for how we feel??”
The rest of the room began to chatter in agreement.
“Well, isn’t it better to be safe that sorry? Where has letting people have free thoughts and free range of living gotten us? Heartbroken…disappointed…devastated. You can barely even look at the news anymore without hearing about a tragedy. Aren’t we all tired of the unexpected? The unpredictable actions of these criminals are ruining lives. The first thing is that the individuals already possessing a criminal record and in the prison systems are the FIRST to get this chip with no argument about it. This will be not only their new form of probation that needs no physical officer keeping tabs, but their forced retention to never step out of line again. It’s all controlled so simply!” He raised his arms as if he’d made a grand statement.
The room’s chatter and discussions grew louder and more animated as more questions began to emerge. The head of the FBI rose to speak next.
“So this is basically eliminating jobs for those of us that had to do this type of work ourselves…isn’t that right Mr. Thorington?” He straightened his jacket in a huff.
“Not necessarily. You’ll still have a job for about three years until the switch is made and everything that you’ve already done the regular way is all controlled through a new high tech system that you will all be trained to operate once you’ve gained your new names as ‘The Survs’.” The room went up in an uproar that made Thorington walk out of the meeting with nothing more to say. Everything could not be answered in one sitting but the fact of the matter was that the president already confirmed and sealed the deal for the manufacturing and distribution of The Surveille-Eye 3000 as they spoke.
“The President shook Thorington’s hand vigorously with a smile. “This is some work you’ve done here Mr. Thorington, it’s absolutely PERFECT for my plan. America will TRULY be great again.”
Thorington beamed with pride next to his wife Nadia and two small children when he signed the 1 Billion dollar deal that changed his entire life and in less than two years the chip was inserted into citizens and running successfully in every obedient and proud American….then Dr. Hartley happened.
Louis Thorington back then was happy and carefree, feeling as if he’d done the greatest deed for his country, now he’d not slept in weeks since the manhunt for her began after she’d somehow figured out how to extract the chip without killing it’s host, freeing all Americans that now realized they no longer wanted to be controlled by the government’s heavy hand. After being known as the most smart and prestigious man in America, he now in the position of being the most hated man. He breathed deeply and faced his fate in The Oval Office as rain fell against the windows in streaks.
Finally turning to face him, the president’s face held an expression of anger as he walked toward his chair and sat down in deep thought before speaking.
“When we started this project for a greater America, I was told there would be no issues. That it is a fail safe plan and there is NO WAY it can be compromised or taken out without the person ending their own life or the lives of others and you’re telling me that this…this mere woman is outsmarting us all and removing it for money…unacceptable.” He stated through gritted teeth while bringing his tiny fist down on the desk with a thud.
Thorington cleared his throat again nervously. “With all due respect, Mr. President, she was known as one of the top surgeons in America…we can’t really underestimate her.”
He looked up in surprise, making Thorington regret his words.
“Is that right? Coming from the head of an intelligent team that I specifically picked to make this project an ultimate success?” He nodded his head in thought. Then a weird smirk came across his face.
“Alright, you’re dismissed.” He quickly stated with a wave of his hand.
Thorington shifted his weight between each leg.
“But um…I am promising you sir that we are going to find her. We will not let you down.”
He continued to write something on a pad without looking up nor responding to his words. Thorington slowly turned on his left toe anxiously and walked out of the door in silence. The president shook his head in disappointment then clicked the “TERMINATE” button on Thorington’s profile displayed on his screen. Within less than thirty seconds, a loud POP could be heard followed by shrill screaming and calls for someone to “Get help.”
With a slash of his pin he crossed out his note saying “Find replacement for position of ‘Head of Survs’ IMMEDIATELY.”