Our Black Year by Maggie Anderson
One Family's Quest to Buy Black in America's Racially Divided Economy

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Maggie and John Anderson were successful African American professionals raising two daughters in a tony suburb of Chicago. But they felt uneasy over their good fortune. Most African Americans live in economically starved neighborhoods. Black wealth is about one tenth of white wealth, and black businesses lag behind businesses of all other racial groups in every measure of success. One problem is that black consumers--unlike consumers of other ethnicities-- choose not to support black-owned businesses. At the same time, most of the businesses in their communities are owned by outsiders.

On January 1, 2009 the Andersons embarked on a year-long public pledge to "buy black." They thought that by taking a stand, the black community would be mobilized to exert its economic might. They thought that by exposing the issues, Americans of all races would see that economically empowering black neighborhoods benefits society as a whole. Instead, blacks refused to support their own, and others condemned their experiment. Drawing on economic research and social history as well as her personal story, Maggie Anderson shows why the black economy continues to suffer and issues a call to action to all of us to do our part to reverse this trend.


About Maggie Anderson

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As CEO and cofounder of The Empowerment Experiment Foundation, Maggie Anderson has become the leader of a self-help economics movement that supports quality black businesses and urges consumers, especially other middle and upper class African Americans, to proactively and publicly support them. She has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and CBS Morning News, among many other national television and radio shows. She received her BA from Emory University and her JD and MBA from the University of Chicago. She lives in Oak Park, Illinois, with her husband, John, and their two daughters. Ted Gregory is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Chicago Tribune.
Published February 14, 2012 by PublicAffairs. 322 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Anderson looks at the reasons for the present conditions, putting them in perspective with some history of self-help efforts in the 19th century, black cooperatives of the early 20th century and the effects of the civil-rights movement on black-owned businesses.

Dec 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Our Black Year: One Family's ...

Publishers Weekly

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They tried to get through the year patronizing only African-American businesses, “to document what products and services we could and could not find.” While this book shows them living their lives with social difficulties (what should one do if invited to a friend’s party thrown in a white ...

Nov 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Our Black Year: One Family's ...

Kirkus Reviews

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In a social and economic experiment as bold as it was challenging, Maggie and John Anderson pledged to spend a year buying only from black-owned businesses in their hometown of Chicago.

Feb 14 2012 | Read Full Review of Our Black Year: One Family's ...


So why were we being tagged as racists?” Our Black Year is a brisk call to action, offering clear-eyed perspective on how African Americans got to where they are today and what they can do to support black business owners.

Feb 14 2012 | Read Full Review of Our Black Year: One Family's ...

Huntington News

My guess is that's why John and Maggie Anderson decided to buy a house in Oak Park, convenient to his job in far western Oak Brook and Maggie's downtown office.

Feb 13 2012 | Read Full Review of Our Black Year: One Family's ...

Small Business Trends

I find it funny when people from all walks of life speak on how a business is run, but few thoroughly examine a business’ relationship with a community.

May 19 2012 | Read Full Review of Our Black Year: One Family's ...

Mother Jones

During the 1990s, according to the National Housing Institute, less than two cents of every dollar spent by African Americans was going to black-owned businesses.

Feb 13 2012 | Read Full Review of Our Black Year: One Family's ...

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