Synopses & Reviews
Maggie and John Anderson were successful African American professionals raising two daughters in a tony suburb of Chicago. But they felt uneasy over their good fortune. Most African Americans live in economically starved neighborhoods. Black wealth is about one tenth of white wealth, and black businesses lag behind businesses of all other racial groups in every measure of success. One problem is that black consumers--unlike consumers of other ethnicities-- choose not to support black-owned businesses. At the same time, most of the businesses in their communities are owned by outsiders.
On January 1, 2009 the Andersons embarked on a year-long public pledge to "buy black." They thought that by taking a stand, the black community would be mobilized to exert its economic might. They thought that by exposing the issues, Americans of all races would see that economically empowering black neighborhoods benefits society as a whole. Instead, blacks refused to support their own, and others condemned their experiment. Drawing on economic research and social history as well as her personal story, Maggie Anderson shows why the black economy continues to suffer and issues a call to action to all of us to do our part to reverse this trend.
"What began as a 90-day project to 'Buy Black' became a year-long project (2009 2010) and a foundation promoting black entrepreneurship for a Chicago couple, Maggie and John Anderson. They tried to get through the year patronizing only African-American businesses, 'to document what products and services we could and could not find.' While this book shows them living their lives with social difficulties (what should one do if invited to a friend's party thrown in a white establishment?) and emotional crises (a terminally ill parent, stressed friendships), the primary focus is on their foundation its history, hard times, and highlights of the 'Empowerment Experiment.' In merging the details of their effort checking out establishments, getting celebrity endorsements, black business history, and multiple statistics the book becomes repetitive, overwritten, and more tiresome than its dynamite subject deserves: 'How insane is it that we couldn't find a Black-owned store in all of Chicagoland with a consistent supply of fruits and vegetables?' If Anderson's book gets readers to wrestle with that question, it will have done a good enough job to make what is largely a business history an effective probe into how African-Americans spend so much money that flows so overwhelmingly out of their community." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Alfred Edmond Jr., Senior Vice President/Multimedia Editor-at-Large, Black Enterprise and host of the syndicated radio feature Money Matters on American Urban Radio Networks
andldquo;Both heart-wrenching reality check and urgent call to action, Our Black Year: One Family's Quest to Buy Black in America's Racially Divided Economy is an inspiring and often mind-bending case study of what it takes to make self-help economics a reality of day-to-day living for African Americans. The economic odyssey of the Anderson family is nothing short of heroic. If you care at all about making the American Dream a reality for ALL Americans, you must read this book, and apply the lessons and learnings of The Empowerment Experiment that inspired it, to your own life and spending choices. Besides that, it is simply a fantastic read!andquot;and#160;
Cathy Hughes, Founder/Chairperson, Radio/TV One, Inc.
andquot;Thank God for this level of commitment to our Black Community. I observed that year with great interest and pride and am so grateful to the Anderson's for this incredible documentation of what we all could do, if we just made up our minds to do it. Big, big, big Kudos have been earned by Maggie and her family!andquot;
Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League
andldquo;Any serious attempt to close the racial wealth gap and build Black American wealth, must better leverage the trillion dollars of buying power controlled by the Black American consumer. In Our Black Year, Maggie Anderson offers a clear, cogent and intensely personal view of one familyandrsquo;s journey to do just this. An important book that provides a path for others to follow.andrdquo;
Publishers Weekly, November 14, 2011
andldquo;Dynamite subjectandhellip;an effective probe into how African-Americans spend so much money that flows so overwhelmingly out of their communityandrdquo;
andldquo;Andersonandrsquo;s book successfully illuminates the roadblocks faced by black business owners and the racial divide that continues to persist in the U.S. economy.andrdquo;BookPageandldquo;Our Black Year is a blistering, honest journal of the Andersonsandrsquo; efforts to buy black, and those efforts can only be described as Herculeanandhellip; A brisk call to action, offering clear-eyed perspective on how African Americans got to where they are today and what they can do to support black business owners. In Maggie Andersonandrsquo;s eyes, itandrsquo;s a moral imperative.andrdquo;and#160;Huntington News
andquot;Our Black Year is an eye-opening book that should be read by anyone interested in the nation's racial and economic divide.andrdquo;
Dave Ross, daily commentator for the CBS Radio Network and former Democratic nominee for Congress
andquot;Berezow and Campbell provide a convenient retelling of progressive excesses, reminding us that the real enemy of progress is the refusal even to entertain a sincerely-held opposing view. But with fundraising the lifeblood of all political groups, each side must manufacture an enemy, and lock themselves in a lucrative (but dysfunctional) embrace. The book concludes with practical compromises, and an appeal for all sides to embrace the scientific method, even when it challenges their orthodoxy.andquot;
An African American family chronicles their year-long commitment to patronizing only black-owned businesses, exposing economic inequality and inspiring a movement
About the Author
As CEO and cofounder of The Empowerment Experiment Foundation, Maggie Anderson has become the leader of a self-help economics movement that supports quality black businesses and urges consumers, especially other middle and upper class African Americans, to proactively and publicly support them. She has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and CBS Morning News, among many other national television and radio shows. She received her BA from Emory University and her JD and MBA from the University of Chicago. She lives in Oak Park, Illinois, with her husband, John, and their two daughters. Ted Gregory is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Chicago Tribune.