A few days ago on my Black Parenting Blog (and sistasense too) I decided to post: 'DailyClick Mommy Picks: Dolls Like Me + 4 Black Parenting Friendly Websites.' The idea behind the post was to share a few quality black websites for moms, mommy bloggers, and dads too. Well, I noticed someone left a comment yesterday that really got me thinking. She said:
I have to check this out (dollslikeme.com). My middle daughter is dark brown and I've been bothered by the white dolls their father has for them at his house. Even with my oldest daughter, who was very light at that age, I preferred to give her toys that she could relate too. My middle daughter has even said she prefers the long straight hair as opposed to her hair being curly. It's extremely long, but she'd rather wear it straight. Anyway, I hope I can impart on her (and her other two siblings) the same messages that I was able to with her older sister. -Petula
Her comment reminded me of how many times African American moms and dads online have visited my Mahogany Momma website and asked me where to find dolls, party favors, toys, books and videos that their children, black children could relate to because even with the Wallmarts, Toys R Us, and Barnes and Nobles of the world many black parents (parents of children in color in general) still find in difficult in their day to day lives to find products worth buying for their children and for themselves.
We still have some fighting to do as far as getting some more real visibility in the mainstream world BUT there are some good things that I'm seeing right now. There are people like myself who rather than wait for folks to figure out that black consumers and black business owners need more attention, they are doing something about it. For starters, I hope you have heard about the Anderson Family and their Experiment to only buy black for one year. They have been seen on television several times and I posted one of their interviews on my website: The Empowerment Experiment. Their story shows that more of us have to make an effort to go against the grain and support black business owners because that is how we are going to build up our communities. Don't believe the hype, when folks say it doesn't matter. Every other cultural/ethnic community, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Jewish communities, invest in their families and their people, and we have to start doing the same as well.
I personally have 30 plus black websites, because I feel compelled to make the changes that I want to see. Over the years I've built spaces like FindBlackProducts.com, The Search Urban Directory, and The Black Girl Click Ad Network specifically to address these issues. I'll be honest with you, when I do hear from big companies who want to connect with African American viewers online they usually aren't looking to invest in my projects through sponsorships or advertising. Most of the time I am targeted by their PR companies looking for free reviews and plugs, which works well for them (because they get paid, and their big company clients get publicity) BUT that stuff doesn't help me be able to afford to invest my websites like I would want to. BUT what keeps me motivated and consistent is that I am able to work with black business owners and entrepreneurs who want to promote themselves on these spaces and in turn I'm able to give you and other online viewers an opportunity to see what great black products and services we do have with/or without mainstream publicity. So for myself I've learned to build my business by working with other black entrepreneurs and without depending on sponsors or grants, which I think is something a lot of us are going to have to learn how to do if we want to get these things done on our own.
Perfect personal example of this, when I had my son, all I knew about with respect to hair care products for black children was "Just for Me", "Dax", or "Baby Oil" (lol). Even with searching, I had to settle for finding a few natural oils to use on his hair and not dry it out with baby oil, because that is a big mistake but when you don't no better you can't do better (right?). So, this past month, a new member joined my social network "Black Business Women Online" (mybbwo.com) and her name is Landra Booker Johnson, the creator of Cara B Naturally (mycarab.com), an all natural hair care line for black children. And she created it because she needed something like that for her child, again being the change we seek! Now if I hadn't been frustrated about not being able to find black business women online and created BBWO, I might have not found Cara B and this is exactly why its so important for us to be the change we seek!
I recently teamed up with Kimberly Allers Seals from MochaManual.com. She told me about a company that was looking for the input of African American moms online to put in a new collection of greeting products for our market in exchange for the chance to win a $50 gift certificate. As soon as I got her email I jumped at the chance to help, because I first and foremost love when we sisters can work together (I've had my share of horror stories) and guess what! The moms shared their input, all went well and one of the moms in my Black Moms Club Social Network won the gift certificate! Woo Hoo!
Right now I am pushing for black women to support our fellow business sista, Sadia Sinsay and complete her survey about Black Women and underwear. She noticed that its difficult to find underwear in skin tones for women of color and she is working on making that change BUT needs you all to share your experiences in the two minute survey. Deanna Sutton, creator of Clutch Magazine has recently proposed a panel discussion at the major media, technology conference SXSW entitled the Elevation of Black Women in New Media, so that we can come together and us black women who are doing well creating spaces online can share our advice and words of wisdom with other black women bloggers and entrepreneurs online. But in order for her to get this panel passed you guys have to vote for it and share it with the women in your circle.
To answer the question I started with, yes, it is hard to find black products because everybody thinks we don't want them or we are not looking BUT we are. Have you seen how much attention my friends Lamar and Ronnie Tyler are getting over at BlackAndMarriedWithKids for their new movie 'You Saved Me', a documentary on married black couples? While the mainstream thinks its buzzworthy to JUST focus on single, black women in the corporate world with no man, the Tylers thought it was time to talk about our Real Men and Women who are getting married and can teach many of us what real black relationships SHOULD look like. Truth be told, we have individuals in our local communities who want to break it down like Dr. Phil, who want to put us in the picture like Tyler Perry, and tell us to 'Hug and Love ourselves' like Monique. We just have to find them and in some cases become them if we truly want to see the change that we seek.
Related Post: Don't Work With Black Women (Period)