Lens Leads Dialogue on Economic Empowerment in Black Communities
Michael Lens, associate professor of urban planning and public policy, moderated the July 6 webinar “Buying Black: Reframing Urbanism and Economics,” a conversation with three experts on the intersection of consumer behavior, city planning and efforts to dismantle systemic racism. A virtual audience of more than 350 tuned in to hear the dialogue on the importance of generating economic opportunities within the Black community. Author and advocate Maggie Anderson, CEO of the Empowerment Experiment Foundation, challenged viewers to make a commitment to supporting Black-owned businesses, saying, “We cannot keep fighting against racism in the streets with our protests if we’re going to keep enabling racism in the stores with our purchases.” A Kouture, president of the International Black Restaurant and Hospitality Association, described her efforts to use data on Black commerce to win support from investors, developers and government agencies in metropolitan areas around the country. And Matthew Miller, a cultural geographer at the University of Pennsylvania, described his research into Black business corridors, including in South Los Angeles, which are “not just a place for job creation and wealth accumulation” but also “community anchors for people to confront marginalization both within the Black community and outside of it.” Said Lens, “We are at this amazing and painful moment of racial awakening. Everybody’s lining up to make statements and say nice things, but we have long gotten past the point at which specific, concrete actions need to be made.” The panelists planned to reconnect to plan further collaboration following the webinar, which can be viewed on demand or on Facebook.
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