Video: PBS Newshour Profiles Family Behind Our Black Year

By Arturo R. García

Watch One Family’s Effort to Buy Black for a Year on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare, this report from PBS Newshour is well worth your time, as it retraces the “social experiment” conducted by Maggie and John Anderson while buying exclusively from black-owned businesses for a year, a process Maggie Anderson chronicled in written form in the book Our Black Year.

The project, she told Newshour’s Paul Solman, was borne out of guilt.

“We thought we should be doing more, and we thought we should be doing stuff with the money that we made,” she said. “Make sure that whatever we do, it was with a black company, a black family company, buy a product made from a black company, use black professionals, shop in black communities.”

According to The Cleveland Plain Dealer the Andersons’ search for some basic needs took them far, far out of their comfort zones:

With high hopes of moving the needle, the Andersons transferred their money to a black bank, switched cell phone companies, and fed way more McDonald’s Happy Meals to their girls than optimal–because these black-owned businesses were plentiful.

But fewer own stores selling necessities like diapers, aspirin and fresh food. Maggie often drove for miles, stepping over trash and around winos to enter stores that looked like “post-apocalyptic mini-marts.”

“Are y’all lost?” wisecracks one loiterer.

Exasperated, Maggie overdoes the details of her forays scouring Chicagoland’s food desert. Her rage builds. “Everyone–I mean everyone–we saw on the street and in the stores was black, but not the store owners.”

The video is safe for work, and a transcript of the story can be found here.

  • Anonymous

    This makes me more than a little sad, but at the same time it’s very enlightening. I might have to read the book. (If only time would permit!) It would be interesting to see data regarding other cities, and other minority groups (Asian, Spanish-speakers, etc.).  I imagine the numbers there might be slightly better, only because with newer immigrant populations language can be a more important factor in deciding where to shop.

     

  • Anonymous

    I also enjoyed this interview:
    http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/the_afterword/2012/03/maggie_anderson_author_of_our_black_year_one_family_s_quest_to_buy_black_in_america_s_racially_divided_economy_interviewed_.html
    Reminded me of the article on racialicious a while back on being Black and (involuntarily) overweight.
    In the interview Maggie Anderson says that her book probably killed a store… since due to internalized racism people started shopping at the store less… 

  • Anonymous

    I really enjoyed watching this and will try to read the book now. I disagree with what the professor said though: That buying Black makes no difference since many products will have been produced in and imported from China.
    (Sidenote: I read the book “A Year without ‘Made in China’; don’t do it, the author has an incredibly poor writing style and knows zero about either American manufacturing or China)
    I think it will still make a big difference, since these storeowners will get more customers and in turn may hire Black people.
    I also would have liked if the film could have given the names of the three Black owned full grocers within the United States, so that we, the viewers, can support them.

  • Anonymous

    I really enjoyed watching this and will try to read the book now. I disagree with what the professor said though: That buying Black makes no difference since many products will have been produced in and imported from China.
    (Sidenote: I read the book “A Year without ‘Made in China’; don’t do it, the author has an incredibly poor writing style and knows zero about either American manufacturing or China)
    I think it will still make a big difference, since these storeowners will get more customers and in turn may hire Black people.
    I also would have liked if the film could have given the names of the three Black owned full grocers within the United States, so that we, the viewers, can support them.

  • Anonymous

    I really enjoyed watching this and will try to read the book now. I disagree with what the professor said though: That buying Black makes no difference since many products will have been produced in and imported from China.
    (Sidenote: I read the book “A Year without ‘Made in China’; don’t do it, the author has an incredibly poor writing style and knows zero about either American manufacturing or China)
    I think it will still make a big difference, since these storeowners will get more customers and in turn may hire Black people.
    I also would have liked if the film could have given the names of the three Black owned full grocers within the United States, so that we, the viewers, can support them.

  • http://www.scribblesandsonnets.blogspot.com/ Jessica Isabel

    I was shocked to find out there are only three black-owned full-service grocery stores in the country.

    This also got me thinking about the attitude Anderson was describing in terms of middle class / upper-middle class black people disassociating from their working / lower class counterparts. I think this is a phenomenon that also occurs in the Latino/a community, but I would say it goes both ways. My dad’s the youngest of 12 and the only one to graduate from high school, the only one to go to college. He works in banking and has been ostracized by the rest of his family for being ‘uppity.’ Mind you, my father’s one of the most humble people I have ever known – one of those people who saves 75% of his paycheck for that rainy day. So because of that he drifted from them and now has trouble connecting to other Latinos… there’s a cognitive dissonance there in terms of the class / ethnic intersectionality. 

    I find that this is also common in certain cultural enclaves among Latinos; I’m thinking specifically of Cubans in Miami, Argentines, Venezuelans, etc. There does seem to be a connection there to whiteness: all of these ethnic groups are whiter than other Latin-Americans, in terms of which groups immigrated to the United States at what time. Cubans leaving the island in the wake of Castro’s revolution were predominantly white, upper-middle class landowners. When they came to the US, many settled in Miami or moved north the West New York, New Jersey (another major Cuban area in the 1960′s and 1970′s). Since they were used to a higher standard of living than their lower-class counterparts, it seems like it may have been easier in some ways for them to reattain that standard in the US. 

    Just some food for thought connecting this video to other POC experiences.