Aurora James, founder of “sustainable retail” store Brother Vellies in Brooklyn, New York launched the Fifteen Percent Pledge on May 31, 2020. A “You asked how you can help. This is your opportunity.” social media campaign aimed at large market share retailers in America. The likes of Whole Foods, Home Depot, Target, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barnes and Noble. In total, calling on ten mega retailers to rethink business strategies and marketing to include 15% of shelf space allotted to black owned enterprises. Why 15%? Approximately 15% of U.S. citizens are black. All ten declined, preferring to focus on their own “racial diversity measures.”
Fifteen percent pledge momentum blossomed without help from corporate behemoths. In June Sephora stood in line, followed by Vogue magazine and countless online fashion, health and wellness retailers. Make no mistake, fifteen percent is building steam. Fair enough, but am I the only one who sees misplaced red flags?
Fact – racism is rampant, black Americans are twice as likely to contract coronavirus than their white neighbors, 40% of businesses closed due to COVID-19 were owned by black Americans, compared to 32% Latino and 16% white businesses. Awareness, dialogue, equality are fine and dandy, but it’s a slippery slope when these initiatives serve as feel good substitutes for fundamental change.
The fifteen percent pledge is a band aid. White participants mean well, they’re pleased with themselves, subscribe to social media trends of the moment. Fifteen percent pledges are a marketing banner. Sales spike with every law enforcement murder of a black citizen, fall when protest subsides. Sure, a handful of black entrepreneurs might benefit in the short term, but how does that combat racism?
Blacks don’t want fifteen percent pledges, they want equal rights. They want equal opportunity based on merit, not skin tone. Those with red hair, freckled white skin and green eyes are no different from persons with tightly curled locks and dark pigmentation. Latino or South Asian citizens aren’t privy to fifteen percent pledge initiatives, so why blacks? Why not aboriginal citizens or non-Christian immigrants? Sigh.
As long as there are differences, real or imagined, there will be differing perceptions leading to bias. The archetypal ‘Justice’ statue in London is blindfolded for a very good reason, Justice must be blind to all aspects but the relevant facts of the actual case.
But often it devolves to the ancestral ‘them and us’; where us = good and ‘them’ = not good. It’s basic human nature, and you ain’t gonna change it. No more than I can, although we try—colour, beliefs, race, ancestry … gender too; anything that can divide does so. People don’t need to be black, red, white, or brown; they’ll make reasons for bias where none exist. Colour prejudices are simply meaningless convenient labels.
It’s the history behind biases that needs recognition; but not at the expense of further wrongs.
Try an instance: should today’s German youth be held to blame for the Nazi unpleasantnesses?
As a Customer I buy to suit my own needs and desires—in fact such is the basis for successful commerce. I don’t buy a product unless I think it’s the best I can afford; and I will NOT buy because someone tries to make me guilty of a sin I never committed.
Coerce someone to make fifteen percent of his display space available because “It should be the done thing” — and then he is a damned Racist pig if he objects?
Charity is one thing, blackmail and extortion entirely another. Brrrr. PC is extortion.
” black Americans are twice as likely to contract coronavirus than their white neighbors”
My latest post (and the one before it?) suggest natural reasons for blacks being more susceptible to Covid that we damned honkies.