Economic justice: Black Dollars app

African-Americans have enormous purchasing power, contributing $2 trillion to the economy. However, leading economists have indicated that 400 billionaires, a sliver of the 1 percent that own the lion's share of wealth in the United States, have a collective wealth that equals the collective wealth of the nation’s more than 14 million African-American households. While African-Americans make up 13 percent of the population, they possess just 2.7 percent of the total wealth.

This issue piqued the interest of Winston-Salem State University interdisciplinary studies student Lewis “Buck” Green. He, along with Winston-Salem businessman and attorney Victor Davidson II, discussed how they could break the cycle in an effort to create a better future for their children. They decided they would harness the power of mobile technology and develop an application that would give the African-American community the opportunity to identify businesses owned by fellow African-Americans.

Their app – Black Dollars – lists Black-owned businesses that African-Americans can patronize. Black Dollars is free to download and businesses can register for free. Users can type in the zip code and a search radius to find Black-owned businesses or products. You can download the app through either Google Play or on the Black Dollars Web site.

Green called the app an invention whose time had come.

“In life most things are about timing. At this point in time, the Black community is at a crossroads,” said Green. “Do we fight for the change we deserve or do we continue to have a blind eye to the issues at hand? At this time, the Black community is looking for a way to fight for the change we all want, and supporting Black-owned businesses is one way we can show our unity and strength.”

Green and Davidson say they want to encourage the African-American community to check the Black Dollars app when making purchases to see if there is a Black-owned business that can serve their needs. If there is such a business, the duo wants to hear from them about the quality of service they received and will rank the service accordingly on their website.

“Allowing reviews of Black-owned businesses allows for consumers to be at ease about trying a new place and also holds businesses accountable for their customer service,” Green explained. “We envision driving so much business to Black-owned businesses everywhere that they will have to hire employees and have job fairs to assist the businesses in filling those positions.”

“We want to put as many Black people to work as possible. We feel that if more of our Black people have legitimate opportunities to be economically stable, the drug and crime rates would decrease in our communities,” said Green. “That's the real trickle down economics.”

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