As organisers of Blackout Tuesday assess the results of the controversial initiative, yet another private sector organization has snubbed it, encouraging its organisers here to quit mimicking North American initiatives which hold no bearing on the Barbadian reality.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Small Business Association (SBA) Senator Lynette Holder declared that instead of focusing on race, Barbadians ought to be redirecting their funds in support of micro enterprises, which, in the local context, are “disadvantaged and vulnerable”.
“I think that we are being influenced as a small open economy too much by what we see happening in metropolitan cities and we must know what our ideological positions will be on a number of issues and be able to carve those out for our own social and economic interests, instead of being driven by an agenda couched by pure capitalist ideology and influenced by the metropolitan ideology and reality,” the SBA chief declared.
“We have identified that small businesses tend to be disadvantaged and they are vulnerable and they represent a vulnerable group and so our focus has been on the issue of size and not on the issue of race and I suspect that that will be our mantra for some time to come. Our issue is to try to encourage Barbadian consumers to support small firms because they are disadvantaged and vulnerable,” she added.
Blackout Tuesday, which was conceptualized in North America, encourages members of the African diaspora to patronise black business exclusively as a show of force against a perceived disparity in ownership compared to other races.
In Barbados, Marcia Weekes and Lisa Niles, who are championing the effort, insisted that it is not “racist”, but is instead aimed at stimulating economic empowerment within the black community. When contacted for an assessment of Blackout Tuesday, Niles told Barbados TODAY the group would provide a full report on Wednesday.
Several people including well-known political scientist Peter Wickham, Secretary of the Barbados Muslim Association Suleiman Bulbulia and Barbados Private Sector Association President Edward Clarke have all opposed the move.
Blackout Tuesday has been a polarizing topic even among the more established Black-owned businesses, with some like Anderson Cherry – a waste management specialist declaring support, and Andrew Bynoe – the owner of Carlton and Emerald City Supermarkets, expressing some concern.
Adding to the voices of opposition, Senator Holder stressed that while she understands what proponents of Blackout Tuesday may have been trying to achieve, the SBA represents a multiplicity of races and would refuse to place one over the other.
“This issue of race in my view is a man-made concept that if you really delve into the historicity of it, we all really come from one family. So it is really unfortunate a lot of what we are seeing now relative to race relations. But the SBA’s position has to be one where it fairly represents its membership that represents all the major groupings that it represents.
“The association represents Black-owned businesses, Asian-owned businesses and White-owned businesses, and as a result, our focus and our mantra from inception has been to support small businesses regardless of the ethnic group there are from and that will continue to be our focus,” Senator Holder added.
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