In the era of yesteryear, when racial profiling was used to keep people from doing business freely, black entrepreneurs were discriminated against for running black businesses. Police used racial profiling to shut down black businesses, and some black entrepreneurs in the past profiled their customers to make sure they wouldn’t be profiled by law enforcement.
Black businesses were systematically shut down.
You may be asking yourself, “What does closing a business mean?” There are many ways to close a business. First, business owners could not access loans or other forms of financial assistance because they were black. Secondly, they could be denied access to business licenses, which meant they could not legitimately run their own company. Third, if the owners manage to get these items and then try to open a store somewhere (like an empty building), they are likely to face harassment and vandalism from their white competitors, who initially did not want them to there were.
Thus, and many others, including the denial of equipment, supplies, and advertising, the cycle continued: blacks were denied access to resources that would give them freedom, while whites could maintain dominance over non-whites through unfair policies, such as racial profiling, you may have heard about this topic at school, or at university, and if you forgot, you can always open free essays on racial profiling or other popular sources.
Blacks were discriminated against for running black businesses.
It was illegal for blacks to own businesses in certain neighborhoods, and this also affected how they were treated. In some areas, black people weren’t allowed to sell goods at all. For example, in the 1920s, a group of white citizens tried to pass a law that prohibited black businesses from being established anywhere except for “the Negro section.”
In other places where it was legal for blacks to open up their own stores, they had trouble doing so because no one would hire them as employees or lend them money with which they could start their businesses.
Police used racial profiling to shut down black businesses.
While racial profiling was used to keep black people from doing business freely, police also used it to shut down black businesses. Police would either intimidate, arrest or shut down black-owned businesses by any means necessary. They would use scare tactics like spying on the business owners to get them to stop working.
In one incident, police watched a black-owned store and arrested two owners when they left the store to go to lunch. Police would also use fire codes as an excuse to shut down businesses because they were often too small or lacked proper ventilation systems.
Some black entrepreneurs in the past profiled their customers to make sure they wouldn’t be profiled by law enforcement.
You might be surprised to learn that some black entrepreneurs in the past profiled their customers to make sure they wouldn’t be profiled by law enforcement.
Consider the case of Harry and Etta Jones, who operated a trucking business out of their home in Birmingham, Alabama. The couple would provide transportation services for local businesses, but they set up guidelines for how their trucks should be used:
- Drivers could only pick up goods from businesses with black owners or employees.
- Drivers were prohibited from picking up products at white-owned businesses unless there was an emergency situation—like needing water on a very hot day when no other options were available.
This rule was put in place because Harry and Etta Jones knew that if they were caught, they would be arrested. They didn’t want to risk their business and their livelihood on a potential violation.
In the same spirit as Harry and Etta Jones, we should not be afraid to set our own guidelines for how we conduct business. As black people, it’s important that we ensure that our money stays within our community. If a company has an employee who will not respect your identity or your needs because they don’t have any other options, then you should probably avoid doing business with them.
Racial profiling is an unfortunate reality of life, but it has its drawbacks. In the era before civil rights laws were passed, racial profiling was used to keep people from doing business freely.