The Economics of Juneteenth: The Rich Will Get Richer and Whiter

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About the author: Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Although Juneteenth as a national holiday is a win for Black Americans who have fought decades for its inception, there are still a tremendous of moving parts to sort. Without a doubt, Juneteenth will bring in millions of dollars in revenue. But where will this revenue go, and who will be the biggest benefactors?

Black Americans continue to face social and economic strife

Black people celebrate Juneteenth in Chicago (photo by the Chicago Tribune)

As with all Black movements, corporate vultures will attempt to monetize Juneteenth. This monetization will come by way of clothing and apparel, books, music, art accessories and more. Collectively, these markets will bring in millions using Juneteenth as a vessel to make more revenue.

Moreover, if the situation is evaluated honestly, Black Americans continue to face social and economic strife. Most corporations are white-owned, and they have the manufacturing to produce large quantities of goods and sell them at a lower price than their struggling Black counterparts.

Large retailers can sell these products for less than five American dollars.

For instance, gigantic retailers such as Target and Walmart are known for having some of the lowest clothing and apparel prices across the industry. By paying their Black and other employees barely minimum or living-wage and having access to lower production costs, these companies have the potential to mass produce graphic Juneteenth shirts for pennies on the dollar. Additionally, they can sell these products for less than five American dollars.

Photo of various shirts and websites where consumers can get shirts for next to nothing

On the contrary, many smaller Black retailers do not have access to cheap labor. Many times, their teams are comprised of less than ten people. The amount of materials and labor it costs these small companies to produce a shirt is at least twice what larger retailers can sell their own shirts for. So, if a shirt costs ten dollars in labor and materials, the least this small company should sell it for is $36. Would a mom of three on a budget rather buy three five-dollar Walmart Juneteenth shirts or three thirty-six-dollar shirts from a small Black boutique or retailer?

Black people [must be] the primary financial benefactors of all things Black

The above stated, Juneteenth is a step forward in the Black plight to be reconciled for their mistreatment. However, the economics of Juneteenth should not be grazed over or discounted. There is money to be made, and pressure must be applied to the government and large retailers so that Black people are the primary financial benefactors of all things Black.

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Published by J Reed

J Reed is a Chicago-based fiction writer. When he isn't making a pretense of writing, he's making a pretense of working.

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