By Dr. _______________ (Identity Withheld)
I have to remain anonymous to avoid the backlash, but the subject has to be addressed. Black Americans, African Americans or whatever designation Negroid American people ascribe to, frequently show a disdain for their own kind every day. Many of us desire to be entrepreneurs but are afraid we would not succeed because our most obvious and most expected clientele, other black people would not support our businesses.
Many of us have decided that our own kind do not possess the ability to run a quality business or deliver a quality product, unless we are working for a white business owner. I had a friend who stated to me they wouldn’t open a nail salon because African Americans wouldn’t patronize it. They felt that black women would go to Asian salons before a black owned salon. I personally wish to challenge this assertion. In my experiences as a dentist, I have been very disheartened by many of my own people.
Some black people will go only to white doctors for all services never giving their own highly trained and educated professionals an opportunity to provide the same services. Black doctors who set up practice in the communities where black people live must suffer indignities such as being referred to as a “ghetto practice.” A white doctor can have a practice in the black community and this would never be said. What makes it ghetto? Because we hire black skinned people? Because we work in a black community? Are we always compelled to hate ourselves, to think less of ourselves, to think that the white doctor or business owner is better by virtue of his or her white skin?
Here’s what tends to happen. Many of our potential clientele travel for miles away from our communities looking for white practitioners who always charge much higher fees. I have seen black patients get a dental treatment plan at a white practice for $15,000 and get talked into expensive financing plans to satisfy the demands of the treatment. I’ll ask a patient to pay $5,000.00 for a treatment plan and they are quick to reply, “I don’t have any money on me.” Or they offer to pay me $50.00.
The white doctor would politely run get them out of the office and not do business with them. And yet, 75% of African Americans are running to white dentists. Many Black dental offices are empty and trying to get patients. This is ridiculous, when you consider that of the 155,000 dentists in the country only 7500 are black, which is less than 1% of all dentists in the country! This explains why some black dental practices are going out of business and why some black dentists can’t find employment.
The 2012 US Census Bureau estimated there were 44,456,009 African Americans in the United States, meaning that 14.1% of the total American population of 313.9 Million is Black. This includes those who identify as “Black Only” and as “Black in combination with another race.” The “Black Only” category totaled 41.2 million African Americans or 13.1% of the total U.S population. With approximately 7500 dentists, black dentists should be doing very well everywhere but this is frequently not the case. As a community, we need more participation from black people as patients. I feel that if I don’t sound the alarm in an effort to awaken our people to this fact, they will falsely assume that black dentists are wealthy simply by virtue of the title “Doctor.” Nothing could be further from the truth. We need our target clientele to patronize black practitioners.
Black dentists are just as capable as white and non-black dentists. Many of us go to the same schools, pass the same board exams and get the same state licensing. The only difference is that many black dentists set up practices in our communities to serve our people. The same communities resemble those areas where we grew as children.
Believe it or not, black dentists and doctors provide great services. We are also the most likely persons to supply your family with employment opportunities.
I had a black female tell me about how pretty the white dental offices look. She went on to describe how the white dental office had all the latest gadgets and decor. I explained to her that black medical professionals face the same financial scrutiny by banks and other lenders. It is harder for us to get loans and lines of credit. And while most black patients are running out of their own communities to white practitioners, I don’t think they realize they are bankrupting their own communities and enriching the wealthy elsewhere. The wealth leaves the black community.
We have admonished our people to listen to the financial data relative to black economics and understand what it means. It is said that a dollar circulates in white communities seven times before it leaves while only circulating one time in black communities. (Click here to learn more about how black people spend their money).
All of this reminds me of a saying that the publisher of this website/blog frequently repeats. He says when it comes to doing business many black people have been culturally conditioned to believe that the “white man’s ice is colder.” Think about it.
If the black population was a nation, the black economy would be the ninth largest economy in the world. This means we are not doing enough business in our communities with black entrepreneurs. We are unknowingly bankrupting ourselves. I hate to say it; but maybe my friend was right. Maybe black women will only patronize Asian nail salons instead of black salons. In many black neighborhoods there are more Asian-owned restaurants serving us “soul food” than black restaurants. What does this say about us as a people? Do we really have hatred and disdain for our own? Do we not like ourselves?
I guess my final point, is that I believe that we have to do better as a community.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts.