Southern Views

You know how you sometimes hear things that start the George Carlin “hmmmmm” in your head?  I saw a TV ad for a funeral home with a tag line, “African-American owned and operated.”  Hmmmmm.

I grew up in the ’60s in an Iowa town that was de facto segregated by a river.  My high school school class of 500-plus was 60% black; the high school on the other side of the river was roughly 1%.  I spent a year in Nam living in a barracks with inner-city blacks from Detroit, Washington, LA, New York, Chicago discussing civil rights, learning Hendrix and how to be an honorary “brother.”  I’ve spent most of my adult life in the South.  I’ve taught at an HBCU (historically black college and university.)  I don’t classify friends as white or black.  This is background so that hopefully my remarks can be seen in context.

Rodney King asked why can’t we just all get along?  It’s hard to do as long as we label ourselves as “African-American  (or insert any race) owned and operated.”

There’s a National Black MBA Association; its publication is the BlackMBA.  Why not  a National White Non-Hispanic (or insert any race) MBA Association with a National White Non-Hispanic (or insert any race) MBA official publication?  Hmmmmm.

The Hispanic Business Magazine deals with Hispanic professionals making changes in America.  Why not  a National White Non-Hispanic (or insert any race) Business Magazine?  Hmmmmm.

I had the good fortune of being asked to participate in and join with a 100 Black Men of (city name)  association.  What would the reaction be to the launch of a 100 White Non-Hispanic (or insert any race) Men (city name) association?  How about just a 100 Men (city name) association? Hmmmm.

“Our business is African-American owned and operated.”  What if the tag line had been “(insert any race) owned and operated?”  Hmmmmm.

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Dr. Nick De Bonis

Dr. Nick De Bonis

Nick De Bonis has been a college instructor or professor one score and six, teaching undergraduate and graduate classes in marketing, advertising, management, broadcasting and communications. A marketing lecturer at Georgia Southern, he's also taught at Savannah (GA) State, Macon State, the Goizueta Business School at Emory, California State-Fullerton, Texas A&M, LSU and Pepperdine. His professional career includes both newspapers and radio, as a reporter, editor, DJ and salesman. He's also the co-author of three professional trade books for McGraw-Hill. An Air Force Vietnam vet who served on active duty in both the Air Force and the Army, he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Masters from Troy (State) University and undergraduate degree from Flagler College in St. Augustine. He's lived from coast to coast and, although he's been in the South for more than 20 years, his Southern-born wife says he'll never be "one of us."

2 Comments
  1. Maybe it’s because almost everyone is from somewhere else that Americans always want to know where the people they meet are from. As someone who’s definitely from somewhere else, it’s never bothered me, but I do find it curious. If you’re not sensitive, then the question is not very different from “how’s the weather?” — a conversation starter.
    Anyway, presumably in response to the fact that motels in the most out-of-the-way places (e.g. Hazelton, PA and Pulaski, VA) were being acquired by Pakistanis and real Indians who’d recently arrived, some of the old timers took to putting “American Owned” on their signs.
    My take on Funeral Homes is that they’re all running into hard times. If people are barely living, splurging on the dearly departed is bound to be considered and re-considered, especially if there are still medical bills to pay. Burial insurance stopped covering the costs a long time ago.
    So, what I’d conclude from an ad for an African-American owned funeral home is that it’s an appeal to community pride. Besides, they do seem to be one of the few family owned businesses left.

  2. You’d hope we were beyond all that by now. It seems racism is rearing its ugly head more than ever in certain instances. I wish we could forget the groups and take people on an individual basis.

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