-1A few weeks ago a friend and I had a debate, about whether or not businesses that advertise themselves as "black owned", or "first black owned", are doing more harm than good.

My friend was of the opinion that those businesses hurt themselves by advertising the color of the proprietor. He told me that by doing so they alienated their customers of other races, which in turn causes those establishments to lose potential revenue contradicting their primary goal of serving the black community. He also made the point that if a white man advertised his company as, "proudly white owned since 1997", we'd all be up in arms.

Personally I disagreed, but at the time I could come up with no significant counter-point to his argument. So the debate ended and I was left wondering, was he right? Do black businesses cripple their chances for success simply because they are proud of their heritage? For a while I thought, and thought, and thought some more, until I could literally not think of a single thing to dispute what he said. Dispirited, I went to sleep hoping that the morning would bring solace to my troubled mind.

But it didn't. In fact over the past fortnight I've been contemplating, racking my brain trying to find a way to prove him wrong. Not just because I wanted to be right, but because I needed to be right. Because if I wasn't right everything I believed about unity, and black advancement would go down in flames. Finally today as I was ready to concede defeat, it came to me. Slowly like the headlight of a train coming through a dark tunnel I came to a profound truth. Advertising your business as black owned, or latino owned doesn't hurt you, it strengthens you.

Let me back up and explain, I was reading a book about slavery, and it talked about the harsh punishments the slave owners would dole out to slaves that tried to escape, or how when a slave did escape they tried to keep other slaves as ignorant about it as possible. And I thought, once the slave had escaped and liberated himself why would they bother keeping the truth a secret? It was then that I understood the master's train of thought, if one slave escaped he set a bad example for the others. By freeing himself he showed the other blacks that escape was possible, that there was another option. The same is true of black businesses that advertise themselves as such. They show the rest of us that hey, escape is possible. Escape from the endless cycle of violence, and poverty that feed into each other, like the snake that eats it's own tail, the Oroboros.

Those business owners set a positive counter example do the self defeating attitude a startling number of black people have ,particularly my age. You'd be surprised the number of times friends or relatives of mine have confessed to me that they refused to apply for something, or compete for something because they were black, and being black predestined to lose. How sad is that? Regrettably due to this victim's mentality we have become a race of survivalists, constantly scavenging bread crumbs from the table unable to envision a future where we might sit at the table. Which is why it is imperative for black corporations to thrive, and to publicize their success so that other blacks can become aware of the possibility for change, then and only then will we reach the reality that those before us died for.

And that brings me to point number two, why white people can't promote their establishments as white owned. The fact of the matter is that they do, they just don't come right out and say it. Every time there's a billboard or a commercial featuring the white owners smiling and looking successful, it tells the world, that hey those are white people and they have made it big. It's simple marketing, they understand that people are visual learners before anything else, most of the time what they see is what they believe, so if you put up a poster of all white people that look successful people are going to assume that all whites are successful. And there's nothing wrong with that really, it's the only way to promote yourself and your business, I just think it's time that black people got in the game and did it too.

So I guess what I want to say is that once again I've gotten my beliefs all lined up properly again. But you know it's those moments of uncertainty where we challenge ourselves, that we find out what we're willing to believe in, and what we're willing to follow. So I guess that means I owe my friend for teaching me this lesson, I just won't tell him ,his head is big enough already.

"People can knock you down a million times, but you're the one that makes the choice whether or not to stay down."-