A new year, and a new administration in Washington, means an opportunity for us to reimagine our country and our economy in ways that truly allow for opportunity and mobility for ALL Americans. In this moment in time, with economic, health, and climate crises that all disproportionately hurt Black and Brown communities, we must recommit to building forward by centering their needs. As we commemorated Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a day of service last month, and mark Black History Month now, we are committed to embodying the civil rights mission that CDFIs like Pacific Community Ventures were birthed out of. For us that means building forward towards the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King envisioned.
The December jobs report showed not only that our economy lost another 140,000 jobs — but that ALL of those jobs were lost by women — mostly women of color. The end of 2020 also brought the sharpest rise in the U.S. poverty rate since the 1960s — and again reminded us that Black Americans were more than twice as likely to be poor as their White counterparts. Here in California, our unemployment rate rose 0.9% as the state shed another 52,200 jobs — a staggering 37% of all U.S. jobs lost in December.
“California’s strict stay-at-home orders have exacerbated its growing divide between the haves and have-nots. The professional and business services sector gained 29,600 jobs last month, while the leisure and hospitality sector hemorrhaged 117,000 jobs and the “other services” sector, which includes hairdressers and nail salons, lost 11,000 jobs. The latter two sectors may not recover until 2025 or 2026, “if ever, given … accelerated automation and alternative sales channel development trends,” according to a report from the California Center for Jobs and the Economy (CalMatters).
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a magnifying glass over structural inequity that is generations’ old, and the fallout threatens yet another generation of businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color. The same entrepreneurs that have always had the hardest time accessing capital, support, and are now jumping through multiple hurdles and relief program applications, while keeping businesses and their workers afloat. It also shows the devastation that can occur when government, philanthropic, and investor support is too structurally paralyzed to show up and meet the needs of the small businesses and communities of color, where they are, and in time.
But we can do this! And as we know, change begins with each of us. February is Black History Month, and an opportunity for all of us to deepen our work toward building that Beloved Community together. You can help build Black wealth with your dollars, and your time. Here are some ideas:
- Join our team here at PCV to embark on a month-long equity challenge; taking even just 10-15 minutes a day for reflection, learning about Black history in America, and actions that you can take individually, and in your business, towards a racial justice journey this month. We recommend watching parts of the recent Kellogg Foundation’s National Day of Racial Healing for an inspirational start; and PCV’s Good Jobs, Good Business toolkit to take actions at your business
- Shop with our hundreds of Black-owned small business clients across the country
- Become a mentor to one today
- Support Black-owned businesses in our communities today and every day by visiting Bay Area Black Market,San Francisco Bay Area Black-Owned Businesses, and Support Black Owned
- Invest in innovative models like what our friends at Runway are doing here in Oakland: meeting their business-owner clients needs through this crisis with a monthly $1,000 stipend, no strings attached, beginning last March 2020. The Rapid Emergency Fund project is a pilot, which Runway calls a “universal basic income” experiment for Black business owners, as supplemental income that could be curative for the racial wealth gap. These are the kind of innovative blended finance strategies we need to be able to put in place to reimagine an economy that centers racial justice, and comes with reparative (not extractive) capital.
Interested in more actions with PCV to build better forward? Visit the links below:
- Invest in PCV or the California Rebuilding Fund to help more small business owners like Alicia Villanueva
- Partner with us as a company
- Volunteer with us as an individual
President & CEO, Pacific Community Ventures