iBuyBlack Discount Card - a New Way to Keep the Dollars in the Community - Hosts First KickOff Meeting

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:

On Saturday, May 20, 2017 PCOL held the first community meeting for the iBuyBlack Discount card, bringing together business owners, consumers, activists, artists and investors from all over Philly. The concept is from the Philadelphia Council of Leaders (PCOL), who have been seeking means by which Black businesses and Black consumers can mutually support each other, and keep the dollars circulating in the community.  

A special discount card that can be purchased either in person, online, or via Facebook is currently good at 250 Black owned businesses, and growing, throughout Philadelphia. www.ibuyblack.org

Since that kick off meeting, the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc, has voted to wholeheartedly support the iBuyBlack campaign, and will make an initial purchase of 50 cards to sell, with individual Sorors likewise making their own individual purchases as well.  Additionally, the Sorority has several members who are entrepreneurs, who will likewise become members and offer their services at the 10% discount rate.  

BROTHER ALI Presides over the IBuyBlack Community Meeting

Brother Ali, who presided over the event, made a statement that resonated throughout the entire meeting, and served as a wake up call for all the participants: “Now you know the most effective boycott in the history of the United States has been the boycott of Black Owned Businesses by Black people. Right?” The concept was a total departure from the usual “blame whitey” attitudes we have become accustomed to espousing.
Brother Rahim Islam, of Universal Companies, stated: “PCOL is taking a stand by saying,  'You know what, talking is not going to do it, wishing is not going to do it; praying is not going to do it - though it can help. No question, putting prayers out there can kind of settle the anxiety; but it's going to take some hard work.  And it's going to take some behavioral changes that we must do as a people, individually - starting with ourselves first, and moving out. And then affecting or impacting those who are around us.  There's no simple other way to do it.  There's no magic way to do it.”  While others compared the efforts to a drop in the ocean, Kenny Gamble saw it as the beginning of a tsunami.

Per Brother Ali, “The iBuyBlack Campaign is a grass roots campaign.  We are bringing it to the community to give them details on the campaign, the discount card, our vision of what the impact will be, and take it back to your various organizations, business institutions and other groups that you may belong to.”

According to Ali, It started In October of 2016, when Rev. Allyn Waller (Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church) called for a meeting of Black men and about 800 men showed up from all across the city, various religious denominations. He had three things he was trying to accomplish: 
1:  End violence in our communities.  He has been working with police commissioner Ross, and has identified fifteen hot spots in the city where most of the violence occurred.
2: Protect voters from harassment. “Right before the "election" and there had been some rumblings about some caucasians coming to intimidate Black voters.  We got a group of men together to monitor every polling place in Philadelphia to make sure that no intimidation was going to take place. 
3:  Supporting Black owned businesses. 

Rev. Waller wanted to set up an initiative to encourage especially the Black consumers, so that, instead of spending all your money with the mainline establishments, spend some of it with Black owned businesses; and not just for the Christmas season, but 365 days a year.


Brother Michael Rashid, the retired CEO of Amerihealth Corporation who took Amerihealth from a one billion dollar corporation to a four billion corporation during his tenure, took the lead for PCOL and became the project manager for the IBuyBlack Campaign.   

Brother Michael Rashid goes over the goals and oboetives of the iBuyBlack initiative and Card

Major meetings were held in November to standing room crowds. Speakers included Rev. Waller, Kenny Gamble, Rahim Islam, Mike Rashid, Harold Epps from the City of Philadelphia, among others. According to Brother Ali, “In January 2017, Brother Gary Shephard, had just returned from Detroit, MI, where they had developed a discount card for businesses. You pay $10.00, make a purchase and get a 10% discount.   If you use the card two or three times, with the discounts you received, the card has more than paid for itself. So we looked at it and said we think we can do that right here in Philadelphia. So that was the birth of the iBuyBlack Discount Card.  And that's how we started it.” 

PCOL has a Cultural Committee that is responsible for cultural activities that teach the sophistication of African and African American cultures in the Philadelphia area. “40 years ago we had the Black Family Reunion, African and African American Parades; and all of those cultural things in the Black community.  We actually owned the summer.  Dr. Edward Robinson taught Culture is the glue that keeps the community together and gives the children something positive to look to.  But why aren't those events here now?  Why are they gone?  why did they die in the first place?  They had died out was because they were dependent on  outside funders like Proctor and Gamble, Pepsi Cola and Coka Cola. As soon as they had a bad fourth quarter, and their sales started to dip, and started cutting back; the first thing they cut out was our stuff!” Ali stated. “In order to bring these programs back, we have to fund these programs ourselves, so we don't have to depend on anybody but God, the Ancestors and the Black Community.  There are 665,000 Black people in the city - enough people and resources in our own community. Last year we produced our first Annual Juneteenth Event with six weeks' notice; attracted over 5,000 people right in the heart of downtown Philadelphia!! It was a tremendous success.  And we are going to do it again on June 17th.”

On September 9, 2017, they are bringing back the Black Family Reunion in honor of Barbara Daniel Cox, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc,  who died last year. The discount card is a way of raising funds to produce money to fund those events. 

According to Brother Ali, the Discount Card does three things: 1) It encourages our people to spend more money with Black-owned businesses.  2) It alerts our people to where the Black-owned businesses are.  3) The proceeds from the sales of the cards goes to fund the cultural activities here in Philadelphia.  So it's a very, very simple process.

Per Michael Rashid:   The goal, is to sell 30 thousand cards; register 1,000 businesses in our system; and to increase the iBuyBlack coalitional organizations from where it is now to 100 by August 2019. 

Michael Rashid stated that until that morning, the most effective boycott was the bus boycott led by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Alabama. “But today the most effective boycott in the history of this country has been the boycott of our people against our own businesses.  That's something to think about. This is a boycott that's not on television.  The news does not cover this boycott.   As Rahim said, it's already in here.  It's already in here.  As my Brothers from the Nation of Islam would say, we're the only people who will spend 90% of our time talking about the white man is the cause of all our problems.  And then we turn around and spend 95% of our dollars with him.  So it just makes no sense at all,” he stated.  

In the libation this morning, one of the people that the sister mentioned was Denmark Vesey. That's  the power and the fear that the other side has of us getting together.  Now we don't have to go kill nobody. All we have to do is break that boycott!   Stop the boycott!  Stop the boycott that we have on ourselves of our own people's businesses,”  he concluded.

Mr. Rashid took a straw poll of those who had used the card so far to find out what their experiences had been thus far:

Brother Kofi: "I used my card at the Smart Ali on Ogontz Avenue.  I went there, had the food. I loved the food, and got my card and it arrived in one week.  Got some fish and grits; my brother and I have a rental property, and we needed a carpenter who could fix the apartment and to be able to do some windows.  I got on there; I looked at the applications; I looked at the information - i punched it in and called the guy.  I'm meeting him next week and he's going to give an estimate on the work.  And I used my discount card at 3rd Floor Media.  They are going to tell you their own story.  We just finished doing a voice over for the historic overview of Juneteenth as part of the CD.”

Testimonial 2: “With this card, I just walked into Dwight's Barbecue. He had never heard of the card, but decided to honor it and he gave me a 10% discount.”

Highlighting the benefits of the card, Michael Rashid stated, “The card lasts forever.  Because what we're trying to do is break the boycott.  We want to get into our minds that our people have all these things as well; and definitely by doing so we can break the boycott.” 

He elicited statements from businesses who accept the card: 

Sherrine Stewart with Ergo Travel stated, “I have a travel agency, and I actually heard about iBuyBlack through I Love BOB - I Love Black Owned Businesses.  So I joined and I'm ready, and I use my card myself.”

Valerie Lloyd: “We're consultants and we plan events - social and corporate events.  And I came about it - the iBuyBlack Card because I'm on the cultural committee and I'm working on it now.”

Dr. Karen James.  "My business is wholistic health cafe -  I found out through Earl Harvey.  And it was a family owned business.  My daughter's a chef.  She makes wonderful healthy meals.  My husband is certified in gourmet teas for the tea lovers; and I'm certified in homeopathic medicine.  So we have workshops, we serve meals - so come out and visit us.”

Walt Watson of Money Matters on WURD -  that's why I say this is good.  I was born and raised in North Philly - my life is everything you put up on the board - that's my life.  And I'm here and I'm going to support it.  I'm going to sign my business up.  I'm probably one of the only African American that is a branch manager of a brokerage firm - The Atlantic Wealth Group.  The first and third Sunday each month, and my name is Walt Watson.  I'm like a work horse, so public speaking is not my thing.  But I will talk with anybody one-on-one all day long.”  

Brianna - of Miss Black Genez - "It's about young Black women appreciating their natural beauty - and loving themselves.  And also about starting young people to think about and build their own business plan.  Our business plan; our knowledge topic and also our talent (are) based on building one's confidence, and also an immune system for Black people, because we don't have a protective immune system.  And a drug free culture. We're trying to clean up everything.  So this is very powerful." 

Andrea Jackson, CEO of AMJ Entertainment - Provides entertainment.  "Mr. Gamble was at an event where my artists were performing, honoring the original Ebony.  That was my band, and my artists singing.  (Kenny - they were very good); and I would love to take a hand full - a box of your brochures and distribute them at our events.  And I'm big on social media, and I've already started spreading your website on social media, and I will continue to do that."

Andrea Jackson and Sister who conducted opening libations 

So it is evident that the iBuyBlack Card resonates with businesses and resonates with people who have the card. 
Our goal is a couple of ways to break the boycott.  Our goal is to bring new customers to African American businesses.  And by doing so, it will bring more money, more customers to African American businesses.  The ultimate goal is to create jobs and grow the Black business community.  That is what we're trying to do.  It costs money to produce the card; advertise and to do all the things that we're trying to do.  We have a website.  That's why the card costs $10.00 This is not anybody's private business.  It's to put Black businesses in our community in a better position.  We think that if we're successful, there's going to be greater employment for our community.  80% of the new jobs created in America are created by small businesses.  That's where the jobs are.  Created by small businesses. 

There are 19,000 businesses - African American businesses - in this city.  19,000 - what if we just had 10,000?  if we just spent 9% of our dollars with our own people, unemployment could be wiped out in the Black community.  Not 90%, just 9%. 

So, here's how it works: “You buy the card here today, or you can buy the card online, it's mailed in three days; customers get a discount of 15% first time out; there is the benefit of promotion - and businesses get new customers.” 

Michael Rashid's breakdown of the demographics made it clear: “In the METROPOLITAN PHILADELPHIA AREA THERE ARE ONE MILLION PLUS AFRICAN AMERICANS.   This is in our five county area.  19,000 African American businesses.  See they don't advertise this, because they don't want you to know the power that you have.  I'm telling you.  There are nationally 3,000+ faith based African American organizations.  200+ educational institutions.   250,000 African American professionals. The average spending is 25 billion dollars - but most of those monies are part of the boycott.  That's part of the boycott that we are doing to ourselves.  So Ali went over what our goals are.  30,000 cards; 1,000 businesses - expand our coalitions to 100 organizations.”  
He then queried the Black Greek organizations: “We got anybody from the Greek organizations here?  Ah!  The DELTAS!   AKA.  Omegas. The Kappas are in the house. Well thank you Greek organizations - we know you have the power.  We know that you're organized; and we know that if you put your mind to it, it will be done.  So we appreciate you.” As of the date of the meeting, Phily Alumnae Deltas have been apprised of the iBuyBlack program; Omegas are preparing to meet and join in purchasing and promulgating the card; Sam Adams of Kappa has pledged to purchase and/or sell 1000 cards; and AKA will be considering the card, as well. The card will be presented at the upcoming PanHellenic Council meeting for endorsement, purchase and support across the board. It was suggested that, for a small nominal additional fee, the cards be logoed for the various fraternities and sororities – which would both be a good marketing tool, as well as a way to see how effective it is among the Black Greek organizations.

He also emphasized that the card will appeal to consumers across the board, from high tech to no tech: “We are going to be very high tech, but not so much so  that we get too smart and forget about the people in our community - our grandmothers and our mothers - people, who just want to buy the card;hold the card in their hands and want a directory like the old telephone book.  We can't forget our people.  We can't get ahead of ourselves.  It's okay - we can come from all over the place.  And that's what we want to do.  We're working on decals and will have them very soon.”

At the Launch on April 13 at City Hall, a press person asked Mayor Kenney what he thought about IbuyBlack, and whether he thought it was “a racist thing, since they're doing it in your house at City Hall?”  And he looked at him like he was crazy, and said, "No.  I'm Irish, and the Irish people keep the money in the family.  Italians keep the money in the family.  The Jews keep the money in the family." The Mayor bought a card on the spot. they're supporting us in various ways, and you'll hear about it in the months ahead.  

Brother Kenny Gamble addresses the IBuyBlack Community Meeting (R)
LR: Brother Kofi, organizer of Junteenth, Michael Rashid, Brother Ali 

So we set up a website; we designed and produced our card, and to date, since the launch, we've sold 1500 cards; and growing everyday.  We have over 250 businesses on our website, and growing every day.  And you can buy a card online at www.ibuyblack.org

According to Michael Rashid, “The next steps develop our brand, and our business model.  Everything we do, we're going to continue to make it better and better and better.  We want to secure funding, and the talent that's going to execute this plan.  We're going to implement a media marketing campaign to build awareness.”  

In addition to WURD, other media outlets covering the morning's event included ECLECTICALLY BLACK NEWS BLOG, and the Sunday Sun. The Sunday Sun has been involved since the very beginning. Rashid also emphasized the need for word of mouth, stating, “That's the best!  And that's one thing we're going to ask you to do today - talk about it.  Talking - get the word out there   - put something in your calendar or DayTimer - every day I'm going to talk to somebody about IbuyBlack.  So we need to build awareness; we need to sell the card; we need to register businesses; and all of this will give us the groundwork to move to the next level.”  

So here's what we need from you: “Use the card Don't just let it stay in your wallet.  If you don't use the card, then the business is going to say - "Yeah, I heard about it, but it's not helping me out here."   Go to business you've never been to, and check them out! And tell them I heard about you through the iBuyBlack Discount Card.  And they'll see that this is a good thing for them. Meetings are a great way to spread the word.  If you can set up a meeting at your church, at your club, at your business, or whatever, we have people who can present this.  Earl Harvey is our lead distribution manager.  If you want to distribute the card, Earl can help you out with that.  Give us the information, and we can get that information to Earl.”  

Once a business owner signs up, he's on the website. Right now there are 23 restaurants on the website.  So the Name of the Business, Address, Phone number, what kind of business they're offering - it's right there on the website.  As we move on, we're going to be doing more than the website.  Put them on decals; put them on the media.” 
The issue of consistency was broached. A white man told one of the members. "You know what's wrong with you Black people?  You're good at sprinting; but you're terrible at the marathons.  You always got to be way out here, and y'all get way excited, but you don't have consistency.  And you don't stick to it."  And that's where we are right now.  We started this thing and we sprinted out of the gate.  We've sold 1500 cards and we've got 250 businesses.  Now, what's going to happen?  And there are a lot of people just sitting back, and I'm telling you! I'm telling you!  They sit back, "Yeah, I heard about this.  It ain't going to last."  Isn't that what they say?  Isn't that what you've heard?  It's going to die out.  Peter out.” 

He elicited advice from Kathy Hicks of the Sunday Sun, and a member of WURD radio, on how to stay in faith and keep charging, when things got tough.

Kathy Hicks, fiancee of the late Jerry Mondesire, founder of the Sunday Sun, stated, “I think this is a very important event  the Philadelphia Sunday Sun has been around for 23 years. We worked together.  And I've been dedicated - this is just a labor of love to keep it going in the community.  Making sure that the word gets out about the businesses; about what's happening in our communities that does not show up in the Philadelphia Inquirer, or the Daily News.  And if you have stories that you're interested in us sharing with the community - we love doing that. Gary Shepherd, who does our weekly, iBuyBlack Neighborhood Community event, goes to random Black owned businesses, takes a picture. He puts out the information about where they are; what they do and also adds a little snippet, or a mini-commercial - and this is free advertising.  But it also gets the word out as to what types of businesses we have in our communities.” 

Ms. Hicks continued, “It helps us!  The Jews do it.  The Asians do it.  The Latinos do it.  And we know how much they make even from us.  So we should do it.  We should do it for our people. And make sure that we are allowed to grow. .  Read the SUN, get the SUN, because it supports our community.  And again, it helps your information to get out.  So, if you have any questions, our number is 215.848.7864 - You can call. If there's information that you want in the paper, you have something going on with your business, and you want to promote it - give us a call.  But also, share the paper so that the people see that we support the IBuyBlack initiative.  And I hope you will do it also.”

Representative from WURD:  “We have to do better; we have to clean up our stores, we have to make the people who come through our doors want to come back.  Tell them to bring somebody with them; and you have to get rid of those lower expectations that you have.  I am in and out of businesses all week; and some of them I don't want to recognize - I can't.  I don't want them do advertise on our radio show.  And it's a shame - but we just have to do better.” She also announced we've just acquired an FM station - it's 9 I'm going to ask you to tune in on your computer, on your phone and listen.  We are the only Black talk radio station in the the state of Pennsylvania – one of the few in the country - and we give news and information to the African American community.  And it's not fake news."

GDW NOTE:  I was an account executive for The Black United Fund of New York, i see this is the approach in getting Black solidarity in terms of economic development across the board.  And I think it's wonderful.  And customer service training for these small businesses is essential;  because you can walk into a place and do a u-turn just by the tone of the voice and the attitude of some of our brothers and sisters.  But it's on both sides -  some of our consumers go in with negative attitudes as well; therefore we need to raise our expectations and raise their level of service at the same time. My late Uncle, Adolf Dulan,  was the on the board and co-founder of Recycling Black Dollars, in Los Angeles - so I think this is excellent  - GDW 

There are also I Buy Black T-shirts for sale, as well as free brochures that can be distributed or shared with businesses or friends.  "Feel free to take brochures, just don't take any that you're not going to pass out.  What we don't have today is food for you. We've got a lot of spirit, but we don't have any food."  A suggestion was made to do pot luck for the upcoming June 10th meeting.

In closing, Brother Ali stated,  "I want to give you the math of this.  This whole effort is based on five per cent of the population.  there is a psychological effect in the African American community, and everybody has to agree with this.  There is no way we came through four hundred years of terror and not be psychologically damaged.  Okay, so that's a given.  And we're going to stipulate the psychological damage in the Black community, and because of that, a lot of times when we start efforts  the first thought that comes to our minds is that, "Oh we can't do that." "This is going to peter out." "We've tried this before and it didn't work." or "We've tried this before, why you think it's going to work now?"  So what I want to say is that this whole concept is only based on five percent of the people participating - a critical mass."  

He then  used the example of the Million Man and Million Woman marches of 1995 and 1996 respectively to prove his point:   "So if we can get five per cent of the people's numbers, in any hundred of the people that you talk to, ninety five of them will say, "we're not interested."   We just want to work with the five who are interested.  Now if you don't think that that's correct, then I want you to go back to 1995 and 1996.  In 1995 there were 40 million Black people in the country (USA); half female, half male.  So that means that there were 20 million Black males in 1995.  Minister Farrakhan put out a call for a Million Black Men to show up at a Million Man March - right?  You've got 20 million Black men.  How many showed up?  Two Million 
showed up out of 20 million.   10% of the Black men showed up.  90% stayed home.  The following year, the Million Women March, right here in Philadelphia, and about a million women showed up. Right? That was about five per cent of the total Black females.  So you can say what you can do, with just that small percentage.  The reason I'm bringing this up is because I don't want you to get dismayed; I don't want you to give up.  The whole key to making this work is consistency.  So just being consistent, spread the word, just stay focused - then we can make this happen."  

Kenny Gamble wrapped up by stating,  "Well I enjoyed myself today - what about you?  And you know Ali is 100% right; this is not a joke.  Sometime we laugh, and you know - but this is no time for laughing.  And, I pray that you take it real serious.  And that you will live this concept and idea for the development of our community.  And as you look around the room, you don't see a lot of young people here.  You see a lot of old heads.  Men and women.  Old heads.  We used to be young once - but now we're old.  So let's take it serious."

He continued:  "It really is good to see you come out.  And this concept is really taking off and at the end of the day, I'm thinking, I might even write a song about this.  So we've got some good people we're standing on, like Sam Adams. He had a group called The Family of Leaders -  that's where this group, Philadelphia Council of Leaders,  evolved from.  And the Libations keep these people living.  Sam Adams lived to be 105 years old.  And he got up every day and went into his office to work on how do you make it better for Black people.  He created something called AFNA - The Foundation for Negro Affairs.    So this is a part of that idea, that spirit." 

Gamble related an incident with Mr. Adams:    "He showed me a picture one day.  Sam said, 'Look at this picture.' There were maybe about forty people in the picture - and they were on the steps of Harrisburg, the Capitol Building.  So he said, 'Tell me something about that picture.'  So I said looks like you all were up there protesting or something.  He said, 'Yep, but guess what, all those people in that picture are dead except for me.'"

"So I know that we've got pictures - I've got pictures of people, and everybody on there is dead, except for me.  There is a picture in my office, right now, where, when we did the Black Family Reunion, there was a picture of Harold Melvin, Georgie Woods, myself, and brother Roland Chambers, who used to play guitar with us.  I'm the only one living on that picture.  So it's not so much.  You can do anything you want to do.  I'm living proof of it.  Everybody told me you ain't going to make it man; you can't sing.  You can't do nothing; but I just kept going. And I kept going. And what I say now is yeah, keep right on going son.   So we can do anything you want to do.   And I expect I'm going to be here as much as I can, as long as I'm living.  I'm going to be here.  And I really appreciate working with all of you - especially Ali and Mike and Rahim and there's so many others out there that we can pull together to get this spirit - to get into this spirit.” 

Gamble later added: “Well I'll tell you one thing, if one thing that I took out of this meeting is that we need more meetings - as many meetings as we can get.  Because one of the things I heard out of this is that we need to have some classes.  So that these business owners will know how to deal with the public.  Business Ettiquette.  I tell you that the biggest things that happens with a lot of Black businesses is that the place needs to look clean; and smell good.  There are a lot of things - but we need to cut that off at the pass.”

Kenny Gamble with enthusiastic Grandmom and Granddaughter after iBuyBlack meeting
One grandmother brought her young granddaughter to the meeting stated,   “I brought a young person here  My Granddaughter.  I brought her for reasons, because I wanted her to know what is going on with the Blacks in the Black community - and I wanted her to understand why it was so important for me to be here.  I want her to be a part of it.  She didn't quite know about your background, so I had her Google you so she could understand who you are.  And I brought her here to meet you; because it starts here, you know.  It's important to me and my family as well as everyone in this room - and I want her to be able to understand and follow.”

"So, I'm glad you're here, young sister.   Okay - do you write songs?...   This is the beginning of a new generation.  Parents, grandparents are urged to bring their youth with them to the upcoming meetings - we are creating a legacy, and it starts in the home.  

The next meeting of the iBuyBlack Campaign will be Saturday, June 10, 2017.  Please check the website and the FaceBook pages for location and time.


Stay Blessed & 


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