Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Lora McDonald, a Kansas City woman (see her picture to the right), is stirring up buzz because she made a vow to only support Black businesses this year. While she has announced she will do EXACTLY what we just did... you should know that she is not affiliated with EE, has never reached out to EE, and did not bother giving credit to The Empowerment Experiment in her media appearances. The NBC Action News (Kansas City) reporter, Lisa Benson, (see her picture above Ms. McDonald's) who covered the story did not mention The Empowerment Experiment, reach out to EE, and has not yet responded to my email about this matter.

We will assume Ms. McDonald's vow is well-intentioned and wish her success in her endeavor to support Black businesses.

Here is the story and video: http://www.nbcactionnews.com/news/local/story/Woman-Vows-to-Only-Shop-at-Black-Owned-Stores/iIPO-DBzu0-0hEA_9SJHwQ.cspx

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gaining strength from a momentous loss...

On the first day of February, I started drafting a Black History Month message with some progress updates on The Empowerment Experiment (EE). I wanted to give you some insights on how our life has changed since our year of living off Black business, tell you about how Kellogg has an outstanding team of researchers working on the historic study based on that journey, and promise you that the tour and a victory party are still in the works.

Last week I buried my mother. Everything I am and have been able to do - including my being a loving and devoted wife and mother, and including my conceiving and conducting The Empowerment Experiment - I owe to her. Her struggle with cancer took something from my whole family, and I have not been able to focus on EE as I would have liked.

So I write today, not to give you the project updates, but to send you love and strength. We will all need it if we are ever going to earn and create the justice and prosperity to which our people are entitled. She is just another fighter, another warrior, another teacher who went home before the battle was won. I will not disappoint her by living the easy and excuse-filled life. I am stronger than that and I hope you are too.

Each and every one of us can support a Black business everyday. Each and every time we do, we show our children and the world how special we are. Each and every penny we spend can contribute to resolving our community's social, educational, and health problems.

As far as updates are concerned, know that I am still trying to raise the money to make finding and supporting quality Black businesses easier for all of you. I am still working on ways to get more VIPs, celebrities, academics and community leaders to be more vocal about our economic empowerment. So don't give up on EE. And EE will never give up on you.

Please show your support at www.EEforTomorrow.com.

Please understand if we have not responded to your notes and emails.

We will get back to the good work very soon.

My mother was born in Cuba. She spoke Spanish. She taught me to fight for the less fortunate. She taught me to defend the poor and the exploited. She taught me to be smart and strong. Till the very end, she always said, "Lucha!” That means ‘to try’, ‘to struggle’, ‘to fight’.

Maggie Anderson
Founder, The Empowerment Experiment

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

EE is still alive and kicking! Our Dr. King Day tribute...

Dr. King again said this about racism and our economic situation:
“Many white Americans of good will have never connected bigotry with economic exploitation. They have deplored prejudice but tolerated or ignored economic injustice.”

They marched to integrate the schools and ensure the right to vote, but did nothing to work for our economic empowerment. In fact, some call us racists for doing it.

So if they won’t support us, and we’re not supporting us, then who is going to support our businesses? How are we supposed to make it? Does anyone think about or care about that?

When you listen to us during our television or radio interviews, you should notice that Black media like Black Enterprise and Tom Joyner always asked us about what have we learned, how difficult it has been, what haven’t we been able to find…

On CNN or NPR, the major mainstream outlets, they first ask why we made the pledge to live off Black business in the first place. We would say, “We are frustrated by the asymmetry between all the awesome Black talent, businesses and resources coming from our community and what’s actually represented in and reinvested in our community.”

And as much those well-intentioned, open-minded, liberal White people truly do care about the horrible social crises we suffer, and proudly brag about voting a Black man into the White House, they never bother connecting our social decay to the totally preventable and absolutely nonsensical economic exploitation we suffer.

You see, don’t have to explain the importance of “Buying Black” to Black people. We know it’s not racism. It’s about love, pride, improving our quality of life, creating jobs, and providing role models for our children. We get it and all want to do it more. But our media is just as culpable as the mainstream media who don't understand our pledge to support Black businesses. There are not enough Black people – especially in our leadership, academia and media – telling the world to support Black economic development. We talk about healthcare, incarceration, education, housing, but NO ONE with power tells the world the main reason we suffer disproportionately in all those areas! None of them say that our close to $1 trillion in buying power works its hardest to clean up and build up other people’s communities, send other kids to college, and empower other group’s dreams for owning a home and a business. Imagine what that money – our money - could do in Detroit, Gary, Oakland and the West Side of Chicago. Imagine. Just imagine. Just dream.

Because I dream, I support Black businesses. Because I love Dr. King, who told us to move our money to Black banks, I support Black businesses every day.

Dr. King said this the day before he was killed:
“...We've got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank—we want a "bank-in" movement in Memphis. So go by the savings and loan association. I'm not asking you something we don't do ourselves at SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We're just telling you to follow what we're doing. Put your money there. You have six or seven black insurance companies in Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an "insurance-in."

So we honored his day by doing our part to activate it. What did we do? Honestly, not much. The girls were home from school, so we played all day, watched TV… and oh yeah, we went a little bit out of our way to drop some clothes off at our new Black-owned dry cleaner. The owner played with my daughter, gave her candy and said, ”Happy King Day!” In that little exchange, between the business owner who built an awesome, top-quality business in her own struggling Black community, and the Black family who went out of their way to support her, we did do something to make his dream, and our dream, come true.

If you want to make sure the media and the politicians – from all races – start paying attention to his entire dream, our dream, make sure you join The Empowerment Experiment today. Just go to www.EEforTomorrow.com now and click in the Join Our Mailing List box.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Can a Middle Class, Suburban Family Lead a Black Power Movement?

My family made a choice, publicly, to spend as much money as possible with Black business owners and professionals. We made this decision and make this sacrifice because we believe Black people have too much talent and spend too much money for their community to look the way it does and for its families to suffer the way they do. We urge our community to practice self-help economics. We want our people to unite, in this positive and peaceful way, to counter social ills that disproportionately impact our people (recidivism, unemployment, gang activity and drug abuse, lack of education), by infusing wealth into underserved neighborhoods, creating more jobs, and providing role models for the youth.

Sounds good…right?

Many people have violently criticized our pledge, our project, and our overall mission. Through hate-email, blogs, Facebook, letters to our home, we have been called racists and Nazis, and demeaning, malicious attacks have been lodged against us and our people.

There are those dismayed by EE’s call for Blacks to leverage and engender collective consumerism as a solution to our problems… threatened by EE’s blatant refusal to continue to wait and rely on the largesse of others or well-meaning government programs to trickle down… confused by our public and proud choice to support our own genius and products. Those people have been feeling that way about any call to ‘buy Black’ for a long time.

But they’re more fired up now because what really burns them about EE is us.

John, Maggie, Cara and Cori—the Anderson family of Oak Park, ‘Apple Pie’ USA. We scare and appall them.

That people like us could dream up something like this is what’s new and inspirational about our movement. And sadly, this is precisely what bothers so many about it. We aren’t poor and disenfranchised. We aren’t ex-offenders reformed in prison. We are not militant radicals. My Ivy League husband and I earned six-figure salaries working in corporate America. We went to white universities and studied with and about good white people.

We don’t fit the Black activist profile.

How dare I, a manifestation of the great American Dream, the product of many races and nationalities, preach self-help economics for Black people?

How dare John? John came from a ‘good’ home in a ‘good’ neighborhood. John’s father paid for his Harvard education. John even has White friends!

So we aren’t supposed to be offended and distressed. We shouldn’t be starting movements. They say we should be humble and grateful, doing everything we can to repay our country for the victory of our lives—not trying to improve America so that there can be more families like ours living that American Dream too.

We’re supposed to do what everyone else does. You know, shop with the big names and designers instead of with our conscience. Drive over and around the struggling Black parts of town. Ignore the plight of our people, the rights of our people, the power of our people—all in exchange for the welcome and cozy embrace of American middle-class life.

We are pretty confident that our girls will get good educations, wonderful opportunities, and grow up to be law-abiding, productive members of society. This is all that should matter to us.

“What else could they want?” They say. “Why are they trying to change things???!!!!”

Yes, we do have a wonderful life. But it’s not enough. And we’ll throw it all away if it means we could not keep fighting for what’s right.

You know what we really want? We want to live that wonderful life in a society where our beautiful people are not relegated to the bottom anymore. So we fight for that. That’s our fight. That’s our journey. That’s our movement and it’s just beginning.

(This blog was originally written by me, Maggie Anderson, for Black Enterprise.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Watch our new video. The best one yet. Be inspired. GET HYPE!

Please watch our new video. THEN support our movement. We cannot do this alone. We cannot fund this out of our own pockets anymore.
Please support the EE Foundation today!

How we came up with The Empowerment Experiment - my personal story

Last year, my life was great. Great family, career, healthy, financially blessed. But my blessings and my purpose were encompassed in what I had, not what I was or what I did. My life’s deeds were reckless and improvised, without purpose or commitment. I had developed a dangerous sense of gratification and entitlement at the risk losing my righteous sense of consciousness and connectedness.

Now, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s suffered from these periods of silly shallowness. So you know - it’s a awful condition. It breeds laziness, renders you idle, and robs you of the hunger, passion, humility and creativity you need in order to make a difference in this world.

And then, my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was given a month to live. All that was before The Empowerment Experiment.

Then, fortunately, God gave me a moment, an instance, a teeny-tiny, fleeting yet most remarkable moment. That moment knocked me over and lifted my high…

We had just spent hundreds of dollars on an anniversary dinner at a restaurant downtown. The whole time we were there, we talked about the social crises in our community, the poverty and recidivism. We talked about doing more mentoring… and that’s when the check came and we paid the bill. And that’s when we realized that we are a part of the problem we were talking about donating time to fix. Our people needed that money. Our businesses needed that money. And all our credentials and accomplishments mean nothing if we know that and do nothing about it.

It was in that moment I learned I don’t have the luxury of giving up, or giving in. I no longer had the right to live the empty and easy life. I could not choose between Living the Dream and Fighting for the Dream anymore.

So we decided to do something meaningful with our lives. We decided to do something about the crisis in our community. We made our pledge to completely live off of Black business and talent. We decided to ground the pledge in an academic study so that we could monitor the potential of buying Black and scientifically defy negative stereotypes about Black business. We called on some leading intellectuals on Black history, sociology, economics and business to join our team. We built a website and issued a press release to announce our plans. We did this all by ourselves, right out of our basement.

That press release did not have to picked up. No one had to come to that site. I mean, so what, who cares about where a Black family decides to buy their groceries and clothes?

Seven months later we are in the midst of a national movement where we have folks registering from all over the world to make pledges to buy Black. We have twelve new EE families from across the country, who are preparing to do The Empowerment Experiment together… just like we do, in front of the cameras, so we can make history together.

Our little bootleg website has well over a million hits. We’ve done MSNBC, BET, Fox News, CNN, CBS News, you name it. And a few weeks ago, the article done by the Associated Press, not submitted to them by us, “Couple’s buy black experiment becomes a national movement” is still being featured in every major news outlet. EE is discussed in over 1000 blogs.

And my mother, who according to the doctors, should have been dead three times over, is right here with us – cancer free.

So if you think EE is going anywhere - you got another thing coming!

That's the truth. That's why we are here. This is pure. This is real.

Thank you for your support.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ain't no party like an EE party...

I have to keep writing or I will go insane. I really don't know what to say though because sometimes I don't even know who I am writing this for. Should I go on and on about why my family does The Empowerment Experiment? Should I give you more updates on how much bigger EE is than the last time we talked and how much more media attention its gained? I guess I should do that. After all, The Empowerment Experiment is about preaching - through creative activity and media - the necessity and power of self-help economics. So I'd better keep preaching. And of course I need to present media updates... otherwise most of you would not follow the project.

That's why I'm a little bewildered today. EE is supposed to be, was designed to be, is positioned to be, a social service initiative and an academic experiment. It is starting to feel like a well-attended, bumpin' party with awesome food, music and drinks, but no one really knows the host or what the hell they're celebrating.

The point is that you all should be paying attention to this regardless of the media's coverage and in spite of it's lack of coverage. You should be the lifeblood of EE, not BET or The Chicago Tribune. I am finding myself measuring the success of this project by website hits and media inquiries. I want to hear from you. I want to know that you care about this. I want to feel your passion about energizing our collective sense of worth, and about what you are willing do to activate and demonstrate that passion. I want to discover your potential - not Brian Williams' or Anderson Cooper's or even Oprah Winfrey's - to make a difference in our community's economic future and sociological outlook. I live, EE lives, through your undying hope in the possibility of a new reality for us... one where we don't feel broken, beat up, angry and ashamed when we walk or drive through a Black neighborhood in America. I crave your, YOUR sincere belief that our businesses and talents will be respected, valued and sought after in this country, and that OUR people will soon represent the American Dream through high quality standards of living.

This is why we are here. But you don't see that. And if you do, I don't feel it.

I am wholly beholden to the media. That's pathetic. If they leave me, EE is nothing.

But that's just me. And fortunately, I am not EE.

I don't think you got that. Yep, you heard me right. I am not EE.

You are The Empowerment Experiment. You are EE. Black people. Black culture. America's promise to Black people. America's pledge to the world. All that's EE.

But for now, EE still needs me. The Empowerment Experiment needs me to stay strong and smile pretty... to buy Black and be proud. I gotta be a smart, tough soldier. Because soldiers do their duty. Soldiers represent their nation.

EE. EE. The EE nation. That's you AND me.

So I will wait. I'll keep waiting for the EE nation to stand up with me and show me something worth defending, fuel the fight worth fighting. I want to fight for a cause and a culture, not headlines and press inquiries.

Will you be there? Will you stand up with me even after the media has moved on? Will you support Black business and talent, and honor and love your people because it's righteous and makes sense - and not because some celebrity or media-magnet family tells you to? Will you refute, will all your heart, mind and money, the notion that your people are destined to be at the bottom of the socioeconomic totem pole forever? Will you work and sacrifice so that our people can sincerely, finally, and with good reason, feel included in the American mainstream? Will you show our children that, somewhere in this world, even if it is just on your block, people who look like them are not always just the workers and consumers whose money and labor strengthens other communities and fulfills everyone else's dreams... but that many of those people who look like them are successful, prominent professionals, tradespeople, and entrepreneurs? Will you also prove to them that those who are don't have to be exceptions - that soon, if we come together, they can become a standard? Will you teach them and anyone else who wants to listen that EE, that the goal of more successful Black-owned businesses and professionals being proudly supported by Blacks, and blindly, yet steadily supported by all people, is the goal that all of America should want and the story that this country should want to tell the world about the people it once enslaved?

Will you do that for me? Oh, I'm sorry. Not me. No,no, no. Not me.

Will you do that for EE?

Now if you did... that would be something worth partying about.