I was out and about last weekend after moving and saw a car wash in East Orange. I commented that it could use a paintjob. I also noticed that the sign was broken and the place looked pretty drab. My friend said to me that why should the owner do all that when “Niggas” will just come by and break it up again? An interesting question indeed. It struck me to ponder how many black people think this way about their own people? I have been struck by how run down many businesses in black communities are. It is almost always a dead giveaway when you’ve crossed into a black community. The stores look just about any old way. In another black neighborhood lies two car washes. One is a hole in the wall, and black owned. It is literally a garage with a wooden board painted white with nearly illegible prices posted for hand washes, The place can only take a single car at a time and is a hand wash joint, which means it cannot just run cars through and make a profit based on numbers. Instead it must charge a high price per car. So what you have is the basis of a car detailing business where people who are willing to spend a bit of cash to have their car immaculately done can drop off the vehicle and have it detailed. What this also means is that you need to have a shop that inspires confidence in your services. I want to trust you with my Mercedes S class. Unfortunately that business does not inspire confidence from its appearance. Down the street there is another car wash joint. This one is probably not black owned. I've never been there so I can’t confirm this. But the place is clean and generally litter free. It is attractive and catches your attention. The place is regularly packed. Clearly then, the idea that “niggas” don’t appreciate well-kept businesses is a lie. What is the problem then?
My thinking is that people get accustomed to what they get and business owners tend to think that they don’t need to cut into the bottom line to accommodate these customers. Yet it is such attitudes that drive the spending black consumer out of the “black communities” where they should be doing business. See once the customer realizes they can get better or more ego pleasing service in other locations, they will make the trip.
I think back to the quality of life enforcement that the NYPD was (and still is) doing, where the police would “harass” people for “petty things.” But the thinking is right on target. Many people, treat things that have an apparent high value, better than they treat something that has an apparent lesser value. For example an old 80’s Mercedes Benz with 200,000 miles on it and a bit of rust, will have an apparent higher value to the onlooker than a brand new Ford Taurus, even if the Taurus has newer technology and a longer life expectancy. The perceived value of the Benz outweighs the Taurus’ newness.
So basically there needs to be a serious change in attitudes in some black business owners and customers so that the level of business and respect can rise.
The second thing I want to touch on is the “black folks don’t do” problem. For example, upon seeing white people bungee jump, many blacks make the comment: white folks are crazy.. We don’t...” Now on one hand I can understand the aversion to hanging off a rope that blacks in the US may historically have, but check it: The Bungee jump came from Africa, you know, that place full of black folks. But this isn’t really the crux of the issue. When watching a horror flick I always hear: White folks are too damn curious. A black person would have done left the (put location here). Well this may be well and true, and that is a problem. People who flee from danger or uncertainty do not make progress. They don’t overcome fears, they don’t make discoveries and they learn nothing. Risk is the price of large rewards. So I think that the problem is not that whites are too curious, but rather that blacks have become not curious enough (As a group….). The sad thing is we hand these “don’t take risks” attitudes down to our children when they hear us make such comments. We need to stop it.