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Our Black Year: One Family's Quest to Buy Black in America's Racially Divided Economy Hardcover – February 14, 2012

27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Alfred Edmond Jr., Senior Vice President/Multimedia Editor-at-Large, Black Enterprise and host of the syndicated radio feature Money Matters on American Urban Radio Networks
“Both heart-wrenching reality check and urgent call to action, Our Black Year: One Family's Quest to Buy Black in America's Racially Divided Economy is an inspiring and often mind-bending case study of what it takes to make self-help economics a reality of day-to-day living for African Americans. The economic odyssey of the Anderson family is nothing short of heroic. If you care at all about making the American Dream a reality for ALL Americans, you must read this book, and apply the lessons and learnings of The Empowerment Experiment that inspired it, to your own life and spending choices. Besides that, it is simply a fantastic read!" 

Cathy Hughes, Founder/Chairperson, Radio/TV One, Inc.
"Thank God for this level of commitment to our Black Community. I observed that year with great interest and pride and am so grateful to the Anderson's for this incredible documentation of what we all could do, if we just made up our minds to do it. Big, big, big Kudos have been earned by Maggie and her family!"

Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League
“Any serious attempt to close the racial wealth gap and build Black American wealth, must better leverage the trillion dollars of buying power controlled by the Black American consumer. In Our Black Year, Maggie Anderson offers a clear, cogent and intensely personal view of one family’s journey to do just this. An important book that provides a path for others to follow.”

Publishers Weekly, November 14, 2011
“Dynamite subject…an effective probe into how African-Americans spend so much money that flows so overwhelmingly out of their community”

Library Journal
“Anderson’s book successfully illuminates the roadblocks faced by black business owners and the racial divide that continues to persist in the U.S. economy.”

Our Black Year is a blistering, honest journal of the Andersons’ efforts to buy black, and those efforts can only be described as Herculean… A brisk call to action, offering clear-eyed perspective on how African Americans got to where they are today and what they can do to support black business owners. In Maggie Anderson’s eyes, it’s a moral imperative.”
Huntington News
"Our Black Year is an eye-opening book that should be read by anyone interested in the nation's racial and economic divide.”

Dave Ross, daily commentator for the CBS Radio Network and former Democratic nominee for Congress
"Berezow and Campbell provide a convenient retelling of progressive excesses, reminding us that the real enemy of progress is the refusal even to entertain a sincerely-held opposing view. But with fundraising the lifeblood of all political groups, each side must manufacture an enemy, and lock themselves in a lucrative (but dysfunctional) embrace. The book concludes with practical compromises, and an appeal for all sides to embrace the scientific method, even when it challenges their orthodoxy."

About the Author

As CEO and cofounder of The Empowerment Experiment Foundation, Maggie Anderson has become the leader of a self-help economics movement that supports quality black businesses and urges consumers, especially other middle and upper class African Americans, to proactively and publicly support them. She has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and CBS Morning News, among many other national television and radio shows. She received her BA from Emory University and her JD and MBA from the University of Chicago. She lives in Oak Park, Illinois, with her husband, John, and their two daughters. Ted Gregory is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Chicago Tribune.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (February 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610390245
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610390248
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #704,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By BookLuver on February 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
An incredibly important read, everyone who cracks open this book will learn something new.As someone who is highly involved in the local food movement, I was shocked how little I knew. Before reading this book I had never considered that though I may be supporting local businesses on a daily basis, I have never noticed specifically who I was buying from.

The prose is engaging, and flows with ease--I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. But perhaps most importantly, OUR BLACK YEAR is accessible to young adult readers, I would love to see this book land on a highschool or college reading list.

A must-read for anyone alarmed by the racial wealth gap.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bookbin on February 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book really opened my eyes to self-empowerment economics and the challenges that are not only inherent within the black community but in any community with a cause as well. While so many are willing to buy green or to vote with their dollars, it's striking how difficult it is to build support within other segments of the population. This isn't just an example for the Af-Am struggle but a story that can be used in other contexts as well.

The Andersons' story is inspiring - two upper middle class professionals looking to make a difference - and yet it highlights how much farther we have to go in America to combat the inequalities related to race. Lay readers will enjoy the personal struggle of Maggie, and sociology and economics enthusiasts will find plenty to discuss here as well.

Gregory does a bang up job making the book an engaging read.

Highly recommended.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Read-A-Lot on February 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Our Black Year; that title makes it sound like some kind of curiosity experiment. The first thought that comes to mind for me is how can Black people have a black year? Isn't your whole life black, all of your years filled with the wonderful sights, tastes and sounds of black culture. Ok, just had to get that out there. Now, having said that, it is a great thing that Ms. Anderson has undertaken. Basically, Ms. Anderson with support of her husband made a conscious effort to spend as much of their disposable income as possible with Black businesses. They made it a point to go out of their way to patronize their own in hopes that support will help turn around struggling businesses and impact the communities they serve. This book is in essence a journal/report of their efforts.

The book makes for good reading and she skillfully weaves history and personal family issues into the narrative. That keeps the book moving and adds depth and perspective for the reader. Readers will get a sense of some of the hurdles black businesses face and the structural barriers, however I don't think the book has the power to transform behavior, because it never shakes the feeling of being an experiment. She is often condescending in her writing when describing certain neighborhoods and the people she encounters in those 'hoods. This was very disappointing for me, and speaks to the Anderson's obvious haughtiness, and distracts from the good prose. I wish the editor would have advised her to remove some of those painful-to-read passages, perhaps they're included to make it resonate and relevant with like minded class conscious people.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By BookNY87 on February 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was deeply affected by Maggie Anderson's message, which couldn't be more timely. Her voice speaks so powerfully to racial responsibility and economic distribution, and is motivational and affecting without being too preachy. She does a marvelous job backing her argument with a wealth of research and statistics. More than that, there is a bigger lesson at hand, and one that people--regardless of their race--should take into account: how (and where) we spend our money has enormous reprecussions on our future, locally and on a much larger scale. Next time you're on your way to Walmart, consider an alternitive that supports those in need, and people with whom you identify.

On top of being inspiring, Anderson shares imperative historical background and socialogical input, such that it should interest all fans of quality nonfiction. A must-read!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Firestarter on August 12, 2014
Format: Paperback
I have mixed feelings about this book....

On one hand I admire this family for making an effort to support black businesses. Anyone paying attention to the problems facing the black community knows most of those issues stem from poverty and lack of economic opportunity. We, as a race, need to come together, build businesses, support our businesses, and employ other black people. By supporting black businesses we are supporting ourselves.

On the other hand, I didn't find the couple in this book likeable or "heroic." At times they came across as elitist and "out of touch." Their attitude toward poor blacks was painful to read. They believed they were pioneering some type of new frontier that others, before them, have preached for decades (i.e., group economics). For me, this was perhaps the most annoying thing about the book.

Another thing that I wish was expounded upon is the reaction of non-blacks to the family's "experiment." They spent a whole chapter talking about the reaction of other blacks but we didn't learn much about the reaction of non-blacks. It was mentioned that the family received tons of hate mail from non-blacks, but that's about it. I personally want to know why whites and non-blacks feel so threatened by the idea of blacks practicing some type of group economics....after all every other race on the planet is allowed to do just that.
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