Are blacks in the southern states of America more self reliant than blacks in the northern states and California ?
August 8, 2006 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Are blacks in the southern states of America more self reliant than blacks in the northern states and California ?

I am neither black nor white nor even an American citizen.

But I have been living in America for about 6 years now.

And my interests in this question stem from my interests in how much culture determines the success of any group of people.

A black acquaintance of mine from Alabama said there are banks and construction companies and businesses run by blacks in the south everywhere.

But he has a hard time finding black business owners in Seattle, Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Area (including Oakland where there is a sizable black population).

When he got invovled in a law suit with an insensible San Francisco lawyer, he told her he is not a black man from California ---- an advice meant to tell her to not mess with blacks from the south because they don't make empty threats like Californian blacks, whom he perceived as mostly show and no substance.

This is an anecdotal evidence. I need some hard facts with good statistics.

The best data I can find come from Roland G. Fryer -- a black young Harvard economist whose main interests is to find out about black culture and black underachievements.
But Fryer's research hasn't come to answering my questions yet.

Sorry if my questions sound shallow and ill informed. I am not against blacks or any other race.

If anything I can say a few very negative things about my own race and the culture I was brought up in too.
posted by babyguru to Education (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can't possibly answer this question without jumping to conclusions based on racial and geographic stereotypes. You aren't going to find any "hard facts" or "good statistics" on this, because people don't conduct scientific studies on subjective criteria like "self-reliancy" based on race and/or geographic location. Why? Because it's impossible, and somewhat ignorant of the fact that people are individuals and personality often has nothing to do with your background.
posted by tastybrains at 2:27 PM on August 8, 2006 [1 favorite]

"Are blacks in the southern states of America more self reliant than blacks in the northern states and California?"

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:29 PM on August 8, 2006

You know, there may be legitimate cultural reasons for this hypothesis that he/she has presented being true.

For example, as I understand it, there has been a "return home" to Atlanta from some African Americans who believe that they can run businesses more successfully there than in Northern cities.

OP, I'd suggest you try a Google Scholar search for "African American" business south.
posted by k8t at 2:32 PM on August 8, 2006

In the north, blacks are more relegated to the cities whereas in the south they are distributed through rural areas and cities. In Milwaukee there is a sizeable population of blacks with about 37% of the population in the city. I don't know what percentage of business owners are black but about 18% of businesses are minority owned. You can find more statistical data on the US Census website for various cities.

There really are no simple answers, it depends on the amount of blacks living below poverty in each area. Poverty has a greater impact on the number of minorities in business than anything.
posted by JJ86 at 2:36 PM on August 8, 2006

Do you have access to a college/academic library? There's a whole field of sociological research where you might find data on what you're looking for.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:37 PM on August 8, 2006 [1 favorite]

(quietly waits for AmbroseChapel to attack someone).

That is an interesting question. I'd say it has more to do with geographic sub-cultures of any race, not just black. My roommate who is black and from Queens (NY) considers herself very different from the black people in New Orleans, just as I saw a lot of differences between the white people here and myself when I moved here from California.
posted by radioamy at 2:44 PM on August 8, 2006

Response by poster: I have just emailed jessamyn I hope she will fix it soon.

Thank you all of you very very much for your responses and your tips so far.

I don't have access to a college/academic library. I was hoping someone can point me to a book or an article or a thesis or a study.
posted by babyguru at 3:07 PM on August 8, 2006

An issue may also be that the South has historically been so segregated that blacks would not have been welcome in white-run institutions, so establishing black-run institutions was more necessary there.
posted by occhiblu at 3:24 PM on August 8, 2006

I would say that "more self-reliant" is probably an unfortunate choice of words, as it implies reliance (on white people?) or incompetence as the norm.
And, as tastybrains said, how can you measure self-reliance, anyway?
I would say that interviews or surveys on a broad scale, perhaps with a rephrased question, would yield some results that might be useful to you.
posted by chococat at 3:25 PM on August 8, 2006

Best answer: This census info looks like part of what you need, and disproves your friend's hypothesis in part.

Survey of Business Owners - Black-Owned Firms: 2002

New York accounted for 10.8 percent of all black-owned firms at 129,324, with receipts of $7.5 billion or 8.5 percent. California was second with 9.4 percent or 112,873, and with receipts of almost $9.8 billion or 11 percent. Florida was third in the number of firms with 102,079 or 8.5 percent, and third in receipts with $5.7 billion or 6.5 percent. Georgia accounted for 7.6 percent of all black-owned firms at 90,461, and with 6.4 percent of receipts or $5.7 billion.

Ten Cities With the Largest Number of Black-Owned Firms Compared to Black-Owned Firms in the State: 2002

New York, NY 98,076
Chicago, IL 39,424
Los Angeles, CA 25,958
Houston, TX 21,226
Detroit, MI 19,530
Washington, DC 12,198
Memphis, TN 11,673
Philadelphia, PA 10,576
Baltimore, MD 9,764
Dallas, TX 9,482

More info.
posted by occhiblu at 3:40 PM on August 8, 2006

The Census website says 55% of African-Americans live in the southern states. Southern states therefore have a much higher number of African-Americans than other states, and it follows that you're going to have a greater number of African-American owned businesses and whatnot as well. Larger percentages of African-Americans also equals a stronger African-American support network, which would aid with business connections and job seeking and all that stuff.

It's probably as simple as that. Not a mentality thing at all.
posted by Anonymous at 4:00 PM on August 8, 2006

. . . Or you could pay attention to occhiblu's facts!
posted by Anonymous at 4:02 PM on August 8, 2006

Will you find differences in black socioeconomic status, black business ownership, and so on from place to place?


Would that mean that black people in the "higher-achieving" areas are more self-reliant?

No. It would mean that the people there are in different social and economic systems, and governed by different governments. Black business owners in Birmingham or New York don't just pull themselves up by their own bootstraps; they're "reliant" on the larger community for lots of stuff.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:09 PM on August 8, 2006

Yes, the South is traditionally more supportive of small businesses than the West can be. That's probably also a factor -- I would guess there are more small businesses per capita in the South, period.
posted by occhiblu at 4:16 PM on August 8, 2006

This page at gives the minority-owned business statistics from the 2000 census. Use the drop-down list in the upper right corner to select the state to get numbers for. This page (Excel spreadsheet) gives the 2005 population statistics.

California shows 113,003 firms with black owners. Alabama shows 28,684 firms with black owners. Washington State shows 6,985 firms with black owners. Of course, that doesn't really tell the whole story without knowing what percentage of the businesses and population this relates to. Washington State shows 467,337 firms listed in total, with the black owned firms therefore representing 1.5% of businesses being black owned. In Alabama, 9.2% of businesses are black owned. In California, it's 3.9%. So by pure percentages, Alabama does seem to be in the lead. But how do these numbers stack up to the overall population distribution? Well, Alabama has a 26% black population, California has a 6.7% black population, and Washington State has only a 3.5% black population. So by that tally, Washington State actually has a higher level of black business ownership by population than California, which in turn is higher than Alabama.

Which suggests that your friend's anecdotal evidence is off.

My math may be off, though - I've been interrupted several times while typing this.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:17 PM on August 8, 2006

Best answer: Or you could pay attention to occhiblu's facts!

Which don't tell the right story. What you're probably interested in is the rate of business ownership by blacks by state. Which, mixing and matching some data, looks like this:
State Rate (businesses per 1K black residents)
ID 74.6
MT 73.3
VT 70.3
NH 52.2
CA 49.9
MD 47.0
ME 46.7
MN 45.6
NM 45.3
FL 43.7

If you eliminate states with less than 100,000 black people as being too noisy, the top 15 are:

State Rate
CA 49.9
MD 47.0
MN 45.6
FL 43.7
NY 42.9
CO 42.8
AZ 39.9
GA 38.5
MA 37.4
TX 36.9
WA 36.8
IL 36.6
CT 33.3
NV 32.2
NJ 31.8

Which doesn't have any regional bias that's obvious to the eye.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:33 PM on August 8, 2006

Best answer: Admins: Delete this if I'm a jackass to post it, but here's the information I used, space-delimited.

State Businesses Blackpop Rate
AK 926 22 42.1
AL 28666 1156 24.8
AR 8942 419 21.3
AZ 6337 159 39.9
CA 112873 2264 49.9
CO 7066 165 42.8
CT 10309 310 33.3
DE 4258 151 28.2
FL 102079 2336 43.7
GA 90461 2350 38.5
HI 817 22 37.1
IA 1610 62 26.0
ID 373 5 74.6
IL 68704 1877 36.6
IN 14068 510 27.6
KS 4468 154 29.0
KY 7592 296 25.6
LA 40243 1452 27.7
MA 12818 343 37.4
MD 69410 1477 47.0
ME 327 7 46.7
MI 44366 1413 31.4
MN 7837 172 45.6
MO 16750 629 26.6
MS 25002 1034 24.2
MT 220 3 73.3
NC 52122 1738 30.0
ND 78 4 19.5
NE 2091 69 30.3
NH 470 9 52.2
NJ 36282 1142 31.8
NM 1541 34 45.3
NV 4343 135 32.2
NY 129324 3014 42.9
OH 35658 1301 27.4
OK 7441 261 28.5
OR 2222 56 39.7
PA 24757 1225 20.2
RI 0 47 0.0
SC 28613 1185 24.1
SD 122 5 24.4
TN 26811 933 28.7
TX 88769 2405 36.9
UT 649 18 36.1
VA 41149 1390 29.6
VT 211 3 70.3
WA 6985 190 36.8
WI 6685 304 22.0
WV 1473 57 25.8
WY 149 4 37.3
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:37 PM on August 8, 2006

So in other words, since the census numbers as analyzed by occhiblu, ROU_Xenophobe, and myself show clearly that the initial premise of Southern blacks being more highly represented as business owners is just plain wrong, there is absolutely zero remaining basis for the claim that self reliance amongst African Americans has a regional bias. Or as I said quite simply in my initial comment, the answer to your question is: no.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:59 PM on August 8, 2006

Except there are more businesses, period, in more populous states. I suspect that the anecdotal evidence stems from their possibly being a greater percentage of local businesses being black-owned in many southern towns.
posted by desuetude at 5:39 PM on August 8, 2006

The data may need to be adjusted. Persons of non-American African descent (from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa itself) are counted as 'black' for Census data, but are probably not what you are thinking of as African American in your question.

Based on my experience, many, and perhaps the bulk, of black business in MN, NYC and other areas were founded by immigrants.

So there's that to take account of.
posted by Jos Bleau at 6:54 PM on August 8, 2006

Response by poster: Jos Bleau,

You are right, immigrants are not whom I had in mind.

Becauise recent black immigrants are known to have more hunger for economic success in and out of schools than American born blacks who have been here for generations.

I am only interested in the culture of American born blacks.

Thank you once again to every one contributed, particular those who found and interpreted the statistics.
posted by babyguru at 8:26 PM on August 8, 2006

Becauise recent black immigrants are known to have more hunger for economic success in and out of schools than American born blacks who have been here for generations.

Only in the same sense that American blacks are "known" to be shiftless and Scots are "known" to be exceptionally cheap and Jews are "known" to have caused all wars.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:36 PM on August 8, 2006

Response by poster: ROU_Xenophobe,

I would like to point out the following article to help illuminate why I said "recent black immigrants are known to have more hunger for economic success in and out of schools than American born blacks who have been here for generations."

Rich, Black, Flunking
Cal Professor John Ogbu thinks he knows why rich black kids are failing in school. Nobody wants to hear it.
By Susan Goldsmith
Article Published May 21, 2003

In particular, the article said "People who voluntarily immigrate to the United States always do better than the involuntary immigrants, he believes. "
posted by babyguru at 10:18 PM on August 8, 2006

Ogbu only gets that by creatively classifying people as "involuntary" immigrants.

He counts Chicanos as "involuntary," as if there were press-gangs and slavers running through Mexico to force the unwilling into migrant labor. I wonder how he might class immigrants from Puerto Rico or Haiti or black Cubans.

My point is that talking about immigrants as a cohesive group is as silly as talking about how blondes hunger for success more than redheads do. Immigrants is way too big a group for that.

Black immigrants run the gamut from college-educated professionals to essentially skill-free refugees to outright criminals. Same as white and asian immigrants do.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:52 PM on August 8, 2006

Response by poster: According to one definition ( among many ) in

Leo Limón: "...because that's what a Chicano is, an indigenous Mexican American".

Meaning those Mexicans who were already in America before California , Texas etc became part of United States.

May be that is the Chicano definition Ogbu had in mind ----- Mexicans who were 'forcibly' part of America upon the loss of territories in disputes between USA and Mexico. ----- not those who came across the border to America after annexation of California and Texas (etc)
posted by babyguru at 8:46 AM on August 9, 2006

Response by poster:
By the way, I have just found out about the following writings of interests:

Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America (Hardcover)
by John McWhorter

Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America (Paperback)
by John McWhorter

Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America.(Review) (book review): An article from: Commentary [HTML] (Digital)
by Damon Linker

Authentically Black (Paperback)
by John McWhorter
posted by babyguru at 9:11 AM on August 9, 2006

babyguru, there's certainly a lot of studies about the success and failure of African-Americans in the country, and I think there are certainly regional differences about how one defines "success," but even analyzing all those numbers is not going to prove, in any way, whether southern Blacks are more "self-reliant" or California Blacks are all bluster. Your friend may be defining "self-reliant" as owning one's own business, but that's not necessarily how the rest of the world might define "self-reliant." Your friend may be defining "all talk and no action" in one way, but that's not how the rest of the world might label the same behavior.

Many Americans, for example, see traditional Western European behaviors as "all talk and no action," while they can see what we'd call "taking charge" as unjustified and destructive. You can just look at the UN debates about the Iraq war for plenty of examples. How you interpret the behavior of either side is based in large part about what you find important -- action or analysis, land ownership or lobbying power, etc. -- and the criteria your friend may be using are probably not universal enough for any sort of meaningful debate to come from them.
posted by occhiblu at 9:45 AM on August 9, 2006

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