The #BuyBlack movement is real

It’s a trend that many are hoping won’t just turn into a passing fad.

Late last month, Essence magazine noted that after years of slow-burning idealism, #BuyBlack has seen a community-wide takeoff. And, as the holiday season moves into full swing, the #BuyBlack campaign has led many to imagine what would happen if African-Americans — the largest consumer group of color in the United States with an estimated $1.2 trillion in spending power — routinely demonstrated allegiance to the 2.6 million Black-owned businesses that exist in America.

“I think the #BuyBlack initiative is a good move for the Black community and not just because of dollars and cents,” said Walt L. Jones III, principal of the SEQ Advisory Group, a Bethesda, Maryland-based management consulting and advisory firm dedicated to helping businesses achieve the highest level of performance and efficiency. “There’s the deeper perspective of reinvesting in our own community and building up the local businesses, some that are owned by our friends, neighbors, and relatives.”

Jones continued: “Similar to the #ECStrong initiative, a community can only heal, recover, and persevere if its residents are willing to make an investment in its infrastructure.”

The #BuyBlack movement has helped Black-owned banks to realize substantial gains. In one month, this summer,

Unity Bank in Houston saw a rash of new accounts.

“The primary reason was the new consciousness of the African-American community that they want to do business with Black businesses,” said John Scroggins, president and CEO of Unity.

The idea of supporting the community is vital for all involved, said Shahara Wright, an attorney and business development strategist with The CEO Effect, LLC, a Stafford, Texas-based organization that provides small and mid-sized companies with legal and business strategies including entity formation, mergers and acquisitions, investor packages and contracts.

“I think it only works when it is local. Many people point to Jewish and Asian communities, which seem to have cohesive purchasing power to support their own,” Wright said. “The #BuyBlack seeks to create that same idea…it ultimately has to be a community that you support consistently.”

Results from the most recent Nielsen study revealed that the Black buying power has continued to increase, rising from its current $1 trillion level to a forecasted $1.3 trillion by 2017.

Black buying power has seen an 86 percent increase since 2000 and accounts for 8.7 percent of the nation’s total. The growth in Black buying power stems in part from an increase in the number of Black-owned businesses as well as from an uptick in education among the African-American population, which leads to higher incomes, the report noted.