About two years ago I came across “Our Black Year” by Maggie Anderson. I put it on my Goodreads list and almost forgot about it until a friend reintroduced me to the author toward the end of last year (still feels funny saying that) by sharing her TED talk on YouTube.
Anderson gave the idea of investing in black businesses context for many people through her book. I’m sure many of us have grown up with a family friend, neighbor or family member who was a business owner and it came as second nature to use their services. But there is also a great number of us who have never seen a black owned business in their neighborhood.
In August we did an interview with Mandy Bowman, Founder of Official Black Wall Street.com. Initially, what made us want to do the interview was seeing the fascinating amount of black businesses thriving in the U.S. (some also over seas) and the types of creative things these people were doing. Melanated entrepreneurs exist now and have existed all throughout history…but it’s a blessing to see so many in one place.
As I revisit the interview, I’m interested in what Ms. Bowman has created for a deeper level. Official Black Wall Street, promotes the development of the part of American economy that is attached to people of color —or simply put, “Buying black”.
Check out our interview belong and be encouraged to buy black this new year.
What is Official Black Wall Street?
Official Black Wall Street is an online platform and directory for black-owned businesses. On the site you can find over 1,000 black-owned businesses listed across the country, special offers, entrepreneur interviews, and more.
What gave you the inspiration to create this page?
A few years ago, I came across the book “Riot and Remembrance” by James S. Hirsch. After learning about Tulsa’s Black Wall Street and how successful the community was at circulating money back into the town, it inspired me to support as many black-owned businesses as possible. My biggest dilemma, however, was finding a list that was accurate and extensive, so I began researching and developing my own.
What are your beliefs regarding group economics?
It’s extremely important, especially for the black community. There are so many businesses that profit off of our massive spending power yet do nothing to help advance our communities. In many cases there are some that even operate at our expense or are still profiting off of slavery. I think group economics is essential to reaching a point where we no longer have to rely on a system that wasn’t created to benefit or support us. Circulating money back into our communities, and investing in black entrepreneurs to create our own wealth will open up so many doors, especially when it comes to things like employment, loans, housing, etc.
Is Official Black Wall Street’s focus in one city or nationally? Why?
The main focus is national, however there are also a few great businesses listed that are based out of the country and ship internationally. I began with the idea of creating Official Black Wall Street for New York City, which is where I am based, but after digging deeper I knew there was a major need to support black businesses in all cities around the country. Ultimately I want as many people as possible to make “buying black” a lifestyle.
What types of things should fans of Official Black Wall Street look forward to on the site?
New businesses are added daily across an extensive list of categories from Legal Services to Restaurants and Food Markets. Anyone can contribute and submit a business to be added to the directory pending review. There are special offers for products and services from black-owned businesses, news about black economics, business spotlights, entrepreneur interviews, and all things black excellence. The site also has an easy-to-use directory where users can leave ratings/reviews and photos, get directions, and more. Owners can also claim their business to fully control their page and respond to reviews. I guess you can say it’s the Black Yelp.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to make Official Black Wall Street a household name and introduce an app for it. I’m extremely passionate about entrepreneurship and real estate, so I also plan to make that leap into being a full-time business owner and real estate developer/investor in the near future.