Clinton and Trump Should Speak to Black Entrepreneurs in the First Presidential Debate
Tulsa and Charlotte are grappling with the all too familiar reality of black men being killed in recent police involved shootings. As Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump prepare for the first 2016 Presidential Election Debate, the nation is — again — asking why.
In the past week, Clinton and Trump have responded to the tragic loss of life with Trump saying “the situations in Tulsa and Charlotte are tragic.” Clinton has said “this has got to end.”
Exactly how either candidate would act as President to bring an end to the violence and the bias that precipitates it remains to be seen. Monday night, the candidates will get their chance.
The topics for Monday’s highly anticipated debate are America’s Direction, Achieving Prosperity, and Securing America. If the candidates want to ensure America is moving in the right direction, prosperity is in reach for all, and that the nation is secure; they should speak to the needs of black entrepreneurs.
First, racial bias is a core problem in this month’s incidents, and those like it in recent years. Without addressing bias and dismantling the systems that support it, the progress that our nation so desperately needs will not happen. Both candidates must address this.
Often, it is the intersection of race and socio-economic status at which the effects of bias are felt most. In Tulsa, Terrence Crutcher was killed after his car stalled on the highway. He had just left class at Tulsa Community College. In New York, Eric Garner was choked to death while selling loose cigarettes. In Baton Rouge, Alton Sterling was killed while selling CDs.
These men, and many other men and women like them, find ways to access education and the economy through the means most available to them. No American should die trying to access education or the economy; our nation must do better. I lead a nationwide casting tour for ABC’s Shark Tank. I have seen first-hand that the spark of entrepreneurship exists in communities throughout our nation, too often, the opportunities do not.
Thirty-four percent of black Millennials believe that the best way to advance their career is by starting their own business; compared to 25% of Hispanic and 18% of White 18–34-year-olds respectively.
This finding in EY and the Economic Innovation Group’s The Millennial Economy poll syncs with other recent data.
Babson College’s Global Entrepreneurship Monitor measures “total entrepreneurial activity” (TEA). African-Americans have the highest TEA rate of any community in the nation.
Furthermore, black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in America. An American Express Open report shows that the number of businesses owned by African American women has grown 322% since 1997.
These are positive narratives that are — simply — not shared enough.
Bias at the intersection of race and socio-economic status means that, although black business owners are starting more businesses than others, the businesses are not growing large enough to hire and be sustainable over time. African-Americans are less likely to receive a loan for or investment in their business, and when they do, the total amount is less than funds secured by white businesses at every level.
Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton have both spoken to the social and economic issues facing African Americans and produced plans to support entrepreneurship. However, neither candidate has fully connected the impact of racial bias to economic opportunity and the violence and unrest we continue to see.
Trump’s plan includes:
- A temporary pause on new regulation.
- Limiting taxes paid by businesses to 15%.
- Ending the “death tax.”
Clinton’s plan includes:
- Streamlining the process of starting a business.
- Addressing access to capital concerns.
- Making the Department of Commerce, “service oriented.”
What Black entrepreneurs need to hear from Trump and Clinton
- Positive narratives about black entrepreneurs; they are prevalent.
- Acknowledgement of the impact of racial bias/racism and the need to fully integrate every American into the economy.
- A plan to use their business contacts to impact the access to capital issue.
- Specific ways in which they will make the regulatory environment better for entrepreneurs.
Additionally, Donald Trump has to apologize for bigoted statements, stiffing small businesses, Trump University, and for insisting that “our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape they’ve ever been in before. Ever, ever ever.” Black entrepreneurs disprove this assertion daily.
Beyond the violence, Oklahoma and North Carolina share a deep connection to black entrepreneurs; they both were home to a “Black Wall Street.” Parish street in Durham, NC and the Greenwood District in Tulsa, OK were home to incredible black business communities. In October, Durham, NC will host the Black Wall Street Homecoming; a unique gathering for black entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship is critical to a healthy economy. However, the rate of entrepreneurship in America has been down since the late 1970s. During the “Great Recession” more businesses were closing than opening. Black entrepreneurs have bucked this trend, with black women leading the way.
Entrepreneurship is not a magic bullet to fix our nation’s problems, but if Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump want our nation to move in the right direction, be prosperous, and be secure they must speak to the needs of black entrepreneurs.