DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Covid-19 has taken a devastating toll on minority communities and now new research points to a disproportionate economic toll as well.
“It was devastating,” says Coy Dorsey, a small business owner in Dallas, “How could you be prepared for that? For Covid?”
Dorsey grew up in New Orleans, the son of restaurant owners and always wanted to one day do the same.
For the past 18 years, he’s operated Nutty Bavarian franchises, first at a local mall and then later at the American Airlines Center and other sports venues. Then came Covid-19.
“So without warning, I had to lay off workers,” says Dorsey. “I consider them like family. It hurt.”
He says the trucking job that once supplemented his entrepreneurial dreams, is now how he survives.
“My heart goes out to the people who can’t take care of themselves and their families and have lost their businesses and their homes It’s sad.”
And getting worse according to researchers at UC Santa Cruz.
They say there were one million black-owned businesses in the United States at the beginning of February.
By mid-April, more than 440,000 of them had gone under for good: a 41% plunge.
That compares to 17% of white-owned businesses shuttered during the same time period.
“We are very concerned,” says Harrison Blair, President of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, adding that local research also paints a dire picture for black entrepreneurs. “From our early survey results, we saw that anywhere from 30% to 40% of our small black businesses in the North Texas region could be closing their doors, and that’s because they lack access to the emergency funding that Congress gave out in trillions.”
Blair says it’s important to not only support black businesses, but also support the institutions that are working to address wider issues of unemployment, education and even technology gaps in poor communities, like the Black Chamber of Commerce.
“We are also calling for corporations to not put out empty platitudes, if you really want to make a statement around racial equity, do so with members of the black community who are leaders, who represent these communities. We have a lot of ideas and we have a lot of impact that we know we can make if we work together.”
Bottom line, says Harrison, “write checks, not apologies,” adding “every dollar that can circulate through the black business community right now is critical. There’s a huge wealth gap in America and we are afraid that that wealth gap is only going to grow as we look at entrepreneurs in the African American community and their lack of funding in this emergency moment.”
As for Dorsey, he says he’s going to do whatever it takes to support his family right now– while hoping he can one day resurrect his business.
“I worked too hard to get to this point to quit,” says Dorsey, “just praying for the best. I think all of us are.”