Dr James Minor, a Diploma Programme (DP) coordinator at Riverview High School in Florida, U.S., believes encouraging support of Black-owned businesses and helping create generational wealth ensures long-term, real change in the fight against systemic racism.
Though it may seem difficult to break down the institution of racism single-handedly, Dr Minor works each day to build a community of dedicated individuals to chip away at it in their own way.
“Intentionality with how we spend our money is a powerful political tool”, he says. “We want to be able to move the dial in terms of generational wealth in our Black community. We believe that being an ally sometimes looks beyond social media posts, poster boards and marches”.
That’s why Dr Minor founded the Facebook group―Support Sarasota-Manatee Black-Owned Businesses―with Todd Chandler, Dwight Josey and Michael Kinsey. The group, which began in June, now has over 10,000 people and several hundred businesses listed. It aims to create a space for Black entrepreneurs to meet, connect, network and do business. It has caught the attention of several local news stations, magazines, podcasts and radio shows.
Explaining how the idea arose, Dr Minor says: “Since the systematic destruction of Black-owned business districts in our community over 30 years ago, Black-owned businesses on average have struggled in the greater Sarasota community”. While researching the history of Sarasota, he discovered that post-Second World War it had a thriving Black-owned business community out of necessity, because of discriminatory practices so common in the South. He notes that historical interviews with local residents often show them reflecting with pride on the Black services, businesses, professions and the tremendous sense of community that they had brought.
“When we are confronted with national and global issues, learning to act locally in a meaningful way is integral to an IB education”.
“Throughout the late 1970s, 80s and 90s much of what was once a thriving Black-owned business district was lost for various reasons”, says Dr Minor. “Part of the inspiration for this project was to work towards restoration of community pride in promoting and patronizing Black-owned businesses. Thankfully, we are beginning to see a great shift locally in regard to people’s intentionality and awareness of these wonderful businesses.”
He adds: “This has been a wonderful creativity, activity, service (CAS) project for me. When we are confronted with national and global issues, learning to act locally in a meaningful way is integral to an IB education. Modelling the IB learner profile and critical thinking skills is as essential for IB teachers and leaders as it is for our students”.
Dr Minor plans to formalize Sarasota-Manatee Black-Owned Businesses into a non-profit alliance that raises funds to support and incubate new businesses and ideas. Minor, who has a long history of community activism and non-profit management work, is intentional in his spending with Black-owned businesses and hopes to provide scholarships for new businesses and Black entrepreneurial ideas in the local area.
If you enjoyed this story, consider reading more below: