In the 1950’s and 60’s the black church led a moral uprising that encouraged white America to join in the mantle of what we all hoped would lead to true equality. To those in power, that equality was defined as a hand up. White America, in the form of government and corporate American institutions began looking at ways to “help” minority Americans reach equality through promotional opportunities in white owned and lead entities.
In the area of government, minority America witnessed evolving empowerment by holding elected offices and finding job opportunities on many levels. In the area of business, those opportunities have not yet been fully realized.
MINORITY BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES?: NO TRUE ACCESS
“I have now reached the point where I am not so much concerned about any one individual racist”, says David Hucks of MBBC. “It is the injustice and unfairness of institutional racism that has allowed a few black faces to prosper, while so many of their brothers have struggled for true empowerment.”
Honest discussions about equality in America should always include goals toward comprehensive empowerment and not just the language of a hand out, an individual promotion, or some other limited form of minority help. In short, how do we empower the entire minority community at once?
The idea of the Myrtle Beach Black Chamber of Commerce came about because a group of Myrtle Beach locals witnessed that the Myrtle Beach feeder cities were turning Minority Majority over the next eight years. Thirty percent of all Myrtle Beach tourism has been black for the past 5 years. What that means is that 5 million black tourists visit Myrtle Beach every year.
Few Myrtle Beach black workers manage hotels in Myrtle Beach. There are no black hotel owners in Myrtle Beach. On the face of it, with over 19,000 rooms to rent in the city, this inequity would seem unfair at face value. However, that imbalance is actually a symptom of the root of what we call “institutionally designed injustice”.
The empowerment model for this inequity is for Black America to own the database of customers feeding these hotels and this city. At current, that client list is owned by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and the associated hotel board members of that institution. The MBACC is empowered to own this list through a “FREE” $30 million tax grant from a 1% tax of which $9 million is actually paid by black tourists. As the population of white American tourists continues to dwindle, that minority database will only grow through the next decade.
TOWARDS EMPOWERMENT: The Way Forward
How would the City, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, the Hotel Industry treat black American entrepreneurs and tourists, if black America owned a growing customer list of 7 million tourists who spent $1.7 billion in Myrtle Beach every year?
What would promotion be like at area businesses for minorities if black America owned this list?
How much easier would it be for black business leaders to purchase oceanfront hotels if this list was at their disposal?
While many in Black America have looked for individual promotion inside of white owned institutions, true empowerment will occur when the community pulls together and builds a lasting and better whole.
DATABASES AND BRANDS
A business is nothing more than its real estate, its equipment, its employees, and its database. For every database, there has to be an identifying and compelling brand from which a consumer group engages, loves and identifies with. Take away the database and the business (brand) will soon die.
For the Cadillac Escalade, the database of black consumers is undeniable, yet Cadillac owns that database.
Realizing this, a key organizer of MBBC spent over $1 million of his own money purchasing MyrtleBeachSouthCarolina.com. “You will never build a database without a good brand name for that database to engage with,” said David Hucks. “For this market, MBBC simply has the best now. Let’s grow!”
Unfortunately marketing does cost money. Fortunately, MBBC is entitled to $9 million in local option funding. Unfortunately, few at MBACC and fewer in the hotel industry want to see the black community empowered by owning such a database. MBACC has cleverly attacked at every level to block this group. Efforts have included a public relations charm offensive for the general black community in Myrtle Beach to MBACC attracting key MBBC board memebers since the launch of MBBC on May 5, 2015. Still others have approached MBBC as black investors, who actually turned out to be no more than fronts for white corporate America.
MBBC is legally entitled to as much as $9 million in a local option sales tax monies as the law is currently written. While putting on a great local front to the black community, MBACC has worked behind the scenes with attorneys, S.C. Senators, and lawmakers on the state level, including the Governor, in an ongoing attempt to block MBBC from getting the funds that group legally is entitled to.
When it comes to empowerment from white institutions: Individual Help and limited promotion? Aboslutely. True Empowerment and the right to self determination? Not on our watch!
By reaching out with articles like this one, we shall see if the black community will continue to stand for such institutional injustice. If the black community ever does unite, watch out!