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An El Paso black-owned business directory site will be re-launching on Juneteenth (June 19), and Black El Paso Voice is seeking black El Paso business owners, artists, churches, and organizations to submit a free directory listing.
Monica Tucker, CEO of MOCHA Enterprises and publisher of El Paso Black Pages and Black El Paso Voice, said the directory is especially seeking business submissions in the following sectors: mental health, fitness/nutrition, consulting (business consulting and/or life coaching), fashion/ textiles, other health services (especially dermatology), and carpentry/home repair services.
“It’s important for (black-owned businesses) to sign up one so that we can have a comprehensive list of black-owned businesses that other black people want to support, but also for those who are not black who want to support. They can’t support us if they don’t know that we’re here.”
Tucker said it has been difficult in the past for some black-owned businesses to self-identify as such, because of fear that it will hurt their business.
“Here in El Paso, there is racism. It’s subtle, but it’s here. And it’s not just whites against blacks or whites against Hispanic people, it’s Hispanic people against Hispanic people because of color or socioeconomic status; it’s hispanic people toward black people. We can see that in the comments section of most of the news social media sites.”
Tucker emphasizes that it’s important for everyone to support black-owned businesses, not just now while there is national media attention focused on racism, but as a sustained effort to counteract deeply rooted structures of inequality.
“In order to build an economy and guarantee a future for our kids, it’s going to take everybody’s support. You have people who are not black, who say ‘I think it’s racist to say that people should support black-owned businesses,’ Tucker said. “And what we tell them is, you may feel that way, but we have a history of not receiving support because of the color of our skin. Period. It’s systemic racism that causes black-owned businesses to fail a lot of the time.”
Black-owned business owners face significant challenges in comparison to their white counterparts. A 2016 study showed that just 1 percent of black business owners are able to receive a bank loan during their first year of business, in comparison to 7 percent of white business owners. And overall, while black people represent 12.7 percent of the population of the United States, they only represent 4.3 percent of U.S. business owners.
Furthermore, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected black businesses, and officials are worried that black business owners are having a more difficult time qualifying for federal relief programs. Black owned business owners have shut down operations by more than 40 percent since COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, a significantly greater number than businesses owned by other racial groups. And the Center for Responsible Lending has warned that roughly 95 percent of black-owned businesses stand little chance of receiving a Payroll Protection Plan loan.
For Tucker, it’s critical that black business owners let El Pasoans know that they’re out there, not only so people can support them, but also to inspire the next generation of black entrepreneurs.
“(Don’t) be afraid to let it be known that you’re a black-owned business. That way other people can come to you and be open to assisting other people on how to start a business here. We need to know — our kids need to be able to see that there are black people here who are doing something,” she said. “If they have a business, then you possibly can have a business too. Are there struggles sometimes? Yes. Are you gonna be discriminated against sometimes? Yes. But you gotta keep it moving.”
Black El Paso Voice will be hosting a black town hall on Juneteenth (June 19), coinciding with the launch of the new directory site and social media relaunch. Follow @blackepvoice on Twitter to stay updated.