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COVID-19–along with systemic institutional racism–is devastating Black businesses in America.

The coronavirus pandemic will shutter many small businesses. And early evidence shows it is disproportionately hurting Black-owned small businesses.

More than 40 percent of Black business owners reported they weren’t working in April, when businesses were feeling the worst of the pandemic’s economic consequences. Only 17 percent of white small business owners said the same, according to an analysis of government data by Robert Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Many small businesses are struggling during the pandemic because they lack easy access to loans and cannot easily move their businesses online. Black-owned businesses tend to have fewer employees than other small businesses. They are also more likely to be in industries like restaurants or retail that lockdowns have hit especially hard, said Ken Harris, president of the National Business League, an organization founded by Booker T. Washington in 1900.

“Most lack the capacity, scale and technical assistance needed to survive a pandemic,” Mr. Harris said.

Black-owned businesses also appear to be benefiting less from federal stimulus programs. Only 12 percent of Black and Hispanic business owners polled between April 30 and May 12 received the funding they had requested. About one quarter received some funding. By contrast, half of all small businesses reported receiving from a single part of the stimulus packages — the Paycheck Protection Program — according to a census survey.

“Black businesses often don’t have a traditional banking partner,” Mr. Harris said. Without such a partner, many had trouble applying for assistance.

The disproportionate struggles facing Black small business owners come as their communities are already bearing the brunt of public health crises: Black people are more than twice as likely as other Americans to die of the coronavirus and much more likely to be victims of police violence.

Juliet Anderson owns two businesses, a salon and a children’s party place, on the same block in the Bronx. Both have been closed for three months, she said, and neither has received financial assistance.

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Source of original article: Black Star News (
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