Maggie Anderson to talk about America’s racially divided economy

Frances Myers

There will be a lecture entitled “Our Black Year in America’s Racially Divided Economy” at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union.

This lecture, part of the National Affairs Series, is the story of Maggie Anderson and her family and their experiment in conscious consumerism.

In 2009, Anderson and her family pledged that they would patronize black-owned companies as much as possible. Anderson scoured the Chicago area for supermarkets, dry cleaners, clothing stores and pharmacies, all of which were black-owned.

Anderson discovered in her experiment that black businesses lag behind businesses of all other racial and ethnic groups in every measure of success. According to the ISU event for the lecture, “In the Asian community, a dollar circulates among local shop owners, banks and business professionals for up to 28 days. In the Jewish community, a dollar circulates for 19 days. In the African-American community, a dollar is gone within six hours.”

Upon doing the experiment, Anderson wrote and published a book about her findings, entitled, “Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest To Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy.”

Anderson also gave a name to her family’s experiment, calling it the “Empowerment Experiment,” as well as creating a foundation of the same name.

According to her website, the foundation keeps the movement to buy from black-owned companies “with ongoing research, education, events and programs to continue promoting and facilitating self-help economics in struggling minority communities.”