Market Women: Black Women Entrepreneurs--Past, Present, and Future

Market Women: Black Women Entrepreneurs--Past, Present, and Future

Market Women: Black Women Entrepreneurs--Past, Present, and Future

Market Women: Black Women Entrepreneurs--Past, Present, and Future

Synopsis

Black women around the world draw from a tradition of thousands of years of strategies that have enabled them to face and conquer the challenges of life as women of color. However, today black women are marginalized by an economic and financial community still dominated by white men. In Market Women, educator, activist, and entrepreneur Cheryl Smith sets the record straight, applying insights from a variety of fields to trace the roots of black women's entrepreneurship, as it is currently practiced in the United States.

Excerpt

Black women are a prism though which the searing rays of race, class
and sex are first focused and then refracted. The creative among us
transform these rays into a spectrum of brilliant color, a rainbow
which illuminates the experience of all mankind.

—Margaret B. Wilkerson, in Hine and Thompson,
A Shining Thread of Hope, 1998

The sun rose slowly. The sky lightened, and the women were already hot as they began their work. Stalls were set up in preparation for selling fruits and vegetables, fish, fowl, cloths, pots, utensils, herbs, soup, and other prepared foods. “Lap” babies were strapped on their backs, “knee” babies clung to their skirts. The view from above revealed a swirling vista of color, movement, and sound: blues, reds, yellows, and oranges as the brown and black women dressed in their multicolored garments and gaileys bent over their equally kaleidoscopic wares, calling out to each other and their children. The Market Women had begun their day.

A Different View

The term “Market Women” often evokes scenes such as that described above. However, it can also be interpreted differently, used to describe smart, savvy entrepreneurial women of the present. I have used it here to set the stage for positioning the accomplishments and efforts of modern-day Black women entrepreneurs along a continuum of history, beginning with . . .

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