African Americans, Business Reopenings and Wisdom

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By Dr. John E. Warren, Publisher

It has become very clear that America as a nation is more concerned about reopening businesses than saving human lives. This means that we must be especially guarded about the information we receive telling us it’s safe to go back to “business as usual” instead of looking at the new “normal.” If more African Americans and people of color are dying disproportionately to anyone else, then our losses will not be considered as important as other people. This means that, just because businesses reopen, it does not mean that we must line up to die.

If barber shops and beauty salons reopen, and we own and operate many, then some of the following steps must be taken: (1) both the person providing the services and the customer receiving service should be wearing “Personal Protective Equipment” (PPE). The service provider should wear the same type of disposable covering for clothes, head, gloves and mask with a face shield; the client should be in a disposable garment; the number of people permitted in a shop at a time should be limited to less than 50% and there should be no waiting seating, only customers being served. Garments should be changed after each client and the area disinfected; gloves should be disposed of after each client as well, and service providers should wear face shields as well as masks, not bandanas, but real masks.

Clearly, these precautions will increase the cost of service, but what is a life worth? Hopefully more than our President and those rushing to reopening think. Clearly, each of us must exercise some personal discipline. Use gloves at all times so that we are not touching door handles, which can transmit the virus.

We must not start acting like everyone else when we are the ones at the greatest risk of infection and death. We should remind those around us, family and friends who think, “I am not going to die before my time,” that they can kill others with their arrogance.

Finally, we must look at new business models and opportunities that are being created as a result of this pandemic. I see no African Americans selling personal protective equipment (PPE) but others are beginning to do so. We have a builtin clientele. We need to redirect the dollars we spend. We need to leverage those dollars now like never before so that we benefit from what we spend as well as others. We need to change some of our habits in terms of spending and consumption to support each other at every opportunity, then others.

All these are things we can do and should rethink as life and businesses around us reopen. We have a new opportunity to do business and help each other. Let’s make the best of it. We might not have another chance.

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