Wisconsin Public Radio

By Megan Hart

 July 8, 2020

Between the pandemic, the resulting economic downturn, and the protests, 2020 is sure to be a year students study in history class. But Dr. Henry McKoy, a faculty member at the School of Business at North Carolina Central University, isn’t sure society has reached a tipping point.

“It looks as if there’s no better time to be a minority entrepreneur, there’s no better time to be a Black entrepreneur, but you really have to get under the hood of the data,” he said.

Before he was assassinated, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. focused on economic equality, McKoy said. There was a belief during the civil rights movement that integration would go both ways — white people would begin spending their money at Black-owned businesses and vice versa, he said.

While some consumers may be more aware of where they spend their money, the issues that Black business owners have historically faced, like denial of credit or access to capital, aren’t going to be solved overnight, he said. Those factors can make it difficult for Black-owned businesses to grow.

Though McKoy says this moment is unique in that institutional racism has entered the mainstream discussion and major corporations are speaking out, there are other factors that could make it difficult to sustain. Generations of discrimination have made it so that Black-owned businesses are overrepresented in some places and underrepresented in others, he said. The same often goes for business type.

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