What We Can Learn From Blitter About Supporting Black Owned Businesses
For those of you who don't know, Blitter is a social media app created Patrick Francis October 2017. The app is a mixture of your favorite social media app (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) that appeals to black users. I got the app after receiving referral from a friend. My initial thoughts? It wasn't aesthetically pleasing. But I reasoned that this was just the beginning and once support rolled in so would upgrades. I thought the concept brilliant. We all love Black Twitter. I don't think it's reaching to say that without black people social media might not be as popular as it is today. As a business woman I saw Blitter as beneficial. For fellow black owned businesses such as myself, the app could be used to talk directly to my targeted audience. I had intended to build my audience on Blitter for business, but due to a recent rant sent to all Blitter users by the founder, I believe this app might be short lived.
This isn't the first time Francis has populated messages to all of his users. Early on I started noticing notifications sent to my phone from "Trap Pat". This was a bit unnerving for me. Although in the beginning the messages were seemingly harmless, I still viewed it as an abuse of power. Just because you have access to populate all of your users with your commentary doesn't mean you should. This outburst however took things to a new level. No one is quite sure what made Francis go on this rant. Some say it's because he wasn't pleased that he didn't get enough users. The messages continued to come throughout the night. Serious threats such as exposing user data (this meant nudes for the Blitter after dark people...an oh shit moment) were made. I viewed my Blitter and Twitter account to see what other users had to say about this PR disaster. It was't surprising to see that most people trashed talked black people and businesses in general.
"This is why we can't have nice things".
Francis going on a rant and even going as far to set the app up so that users were unable to officially deactivate their accounts is uncalled for. It was unacceptable and I won't make any excuses for him, but why is it in the black community one bad apple spoils the garden ? I cringe every time people around me claim not to patronize black businesses. I may not have a store front (yet) but I am a black owned business so what does that say about their feelings towards me. As a freelancer I have had sucky clients white and black, but I never walk away from this situation thinking this person's entire race sucks. It was just that individual and I will not be conducting business with them again, simple as that. Why is it in the black community when we encounter awful service from a business owned by another race, we never cut off that race. Not only that, sometimes we still support the business. I can bet that not all black people are continuously boycotting stores with a history of racial issues such a as Cracker Barrel and H&M. For some reason when it comes to businesses owned by other races our community tends to have an understanding and forgiving heart. However, when a black owned business makes a mistake not only will we give up on that individual business we also lump in other black owned business as well.
Some might argue that several black owned business have major issues. I can agree, but I also understand that many times customers don't look at things from an entrepreneurial aspect. Most black people aren't taught about entrepreneurship as other races. Starting my own business has been tough, because my family doesn't have the answers when I ask about how to do taxes as an entrepreneur or to deal with tough customers. Unfortunately a black business owner has to heavily rely on trial and error. Research is helpful, but you can't research what you don't know. I feel awful when I am confronted with something that I never knew was a thing to begin with by a client, because I know that person expects me to know. On the bright side thanks to that client I can move forward and do better, but on the down side I've more than likely just lost that client for good and even worst what if they client has gone around telling everyone how awful I am.
Black people also don't have a lot of seed money. When you see a cute shirt by a black owned business and it's $25.00 plus tax and shipping it's not that price for the hell of it. I also used to say I'd show support once prices were lowered, but that outlook changed when I started looking into creating my own merchandise. Creating merchandise is expensive and even more so when you can't afford things at the whole sale price. Pricing tools will tell you that you will have to sell t-shirts at $25 just to make a decent profit. I adjusted my mindset. I know follow, share information and write down business that I can't afford just yet to financially support. There is more than one way to support our business owner brother and sisters. I even started bartering. For my friends who are in business when I need their services, but am low on funds we exchange services. There is always a way to show support. I'd rather see more things like this being done in our community than constant complaints especially when I know that African-American have one of the highest buying power and we have been more than willing to spend top dollar for Ralph Lauren and other non-black brands.
By now many of us have seen Black Panther and have fallen in love with the idea of black people thriving. My point is we will never have Wakanda if we cut off all black businesses due to one mistake. I'm not giving anyone an excuse to knowingly do bad business, but I am recognizing that not one person know everything and no business owner black or any other race will get it right 100% of the time. Let's focus on uplifting each other more, even if that is as simple as cutting out the tweets about how all black owned businesses are trash. At least that would be a step closer to more businesses and ultimately wealth in our community.