This is an interesting story of how Black Entrepreneurs are so conscious of their image and their race when they deal because they assume that there will be discrimination! Yes, there is a perception gap and I feel part of that has to do with the media and partly with the Black community itself!The Dilemma of being a Black Entrepreneur! #Blackentrepreneur Click To Tweet
Yes, America has racism.. but those who crib about its racism have not gone to Europe or Australia where racism takes a whole different dimension! US is as good as it gets to tolerance on race as it can possibly come in the Western world.
I think by assuming that the other person will discriminate you because you are “Black” vs that you are “different” is big leap in many minds. That is the leap that one has to make. For all the Indian entrepreneurs who were trying to get some work outsourced to India in early 1990’s one cannot even begin to imagine the odds stacked against them!! It took one generation and now a company which hasn’t outsourced its software to Indians is probably considered close to extinction!
Black community needs leaders who can stop this “labeling” that happens within the community and inspire the community to study. People like Jesse Jackson and others are a joke.. folks that black community can live without!
As the day wore on, Ford felt that what he had spent years seeking — acceptance, respect, an unchallenged level of achievement — had been put at risk. In danger of losing one contract and not winning another he coveted, Ford wondered: Would his aspirations for Enlightened ever be realized? Would he feel this extra pull to prove himself if he were not black?
Ford’s anxiety about image is common among black businessmen who are barreling into territory where relatively few of them have established ownership: information technology, construction, real estate, financial management. Many bring with them advanced degrees, years of corporate experience, and cultural and emotional complexities that can both enrich and burden their lives as business owners. Many struggle with whether they must sacrifice their identity to be successful. In Ford’s case, that means questioning whether Enlightened should even promote that it is black-owned.
“The dilemma is you don’t know whether doing this or not will help,” says Barron H. Harvey, dean of Howard University’s School of Business and a long-time consultant to minority businesses. “There are some firms that have decided they are going to be who they are and not downplay that they are black-owned. But then they question if they had done it differently, would they have been more successful? You never know.”
Ford decided he would take no chances. Enlightened’s Web site features stock photos of three young, white men in suits and a white woman gathered around a laptop computer. There are no obvious indications that the firm is run by black men. “We don’t want people to shut the door on us before we show them what we can do,” Ford says.
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