If I Can Forgive Bryson Tiller, Then You Can Support Black Business / by Aquillia Mikel

So, at first, I was going to call Bryson by his government name- Bryson Dajuan Tiller because that's how upset I was when I sat down to write this.....but I didn't have enough research to verify if that was his actual middle name- so I rolled with this title.

Let me recall what happened. It was July (2016) when I waited five hours for Bryson Tiller to come on stage. Not 1, not 2....you get it. A smooth 5. I went with a friend to see him in (what I thought was) an after show he was holding at Lollapalooza. I'm getting ready, all excited- putting my dark lipstick on because Bryson's music makes me feel vampy and like I'm right around the corner from walking into an ex-boyfriend. Between Hours 1-2, I'm getting turnt with the DJs on stage, there are random girls on stage dancing and taking pictures which makes me...thoroughly...confused, and the vibes are good. It's during Hour 3 when I'm considering the fact that Bryson is making me wait longer than Lauryn and my Nike Dunk wedges are getting slightly uncomfortable. Hour 3 1/2 and he strolls in, signature baseball cap in tow, and walks right off the stage in to VIP. I'm thinking it's cool- he may be a little parched, he had a long journey to the venue, let's get him a moment to get a glass of water. (Is that what they drink in VIP?) Hour 4 slid into Hour 5- and then he came down the stairs, across the stage, I was getting my brain ready to say "DON'T" at the actual beat drop of his song, when he says- "A'ight, Chicago, I fucks with ya'll real heavy" and DIPS FROM THE VENUE. If you are on my Snapchat then you know that, soon after, riots ensued. 

My question to my friend after this fiasco was: "Ok, so now- we're done with Bryson Tiller for life?, right"- which made me think of all of the times that people have mentioned bad experiences with Black businesses and how we are so quick to cut off ties with our own as quickly as we connect them. Even if they are quality, top-performing Black owned businesses. And because I still have the song "Don't" in my head, you may (definitely) see my explanation laced with some lyrics. Fair warning. 

As Black consumers, we are emotionally tied to Black businesses whether we want to admit it or not. You don't have to tell me that it's true- your actions do. This is why the biggest complaint we have about Black business is the customer service and furiously mumble to ourselves that "we need to do better." We look at the owners and the employees and see ourselves in them. We think about how we would run the business if we were in charge or look at the people who are providing the service or product as if they have let our entire race down. When most of us shop with Black businesses, it is because we have made a conscious decision and went out of our way to support our own and we feel personally slighted when we feel that the service was unsatisfactory. EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT.

"If I went out of my way to support you, then you should be able to do xyz."

"Bryson, if I waited 5 hours for you, the LEAST you can do is give me a cute vocal run, boo!"

And, I get it. It's not always easy to find Black businesses at the ready because there are so many societal, environmental, economic, AND racial factors that influences Black ownership in our cities- especially Chicago. But, where are these grumbles when you shop with other major brands or businesses? You will shop at these same stores, receive the same service, and then stay with them because the prices are right. OR because it's straight up easier to find them everywhere because of the same societal, environmental, economic, AND racial factors that make it difficult to find quality, Black owned businesses. Notice I said QUALITY. I would never ask you to support a business that is NEVER clean, NEVER timely, NEVER professional or anything else. You shouldn't give your money to any establishment like that. But IF a quality Black owned business does you dirty one time, give that business room to grow. Don't even try to act like you haven't given that grace to non-Black owned businesses. DON'T EVEN DO IT. I've had Bryson's album in rotation since the day it came out because it pretty much speaks to my soul and is brilliant, and his last concert in Chicago was dope. At least from what I saw on Twitter because I missed it - but that is entirely a different story for later. 

When it comes to Black business and a few of their slip ups- work on giving feedback. You put time and energy in finding these businesses in the first place so I know you care about seeing them get better. If customer service is awful, tell them and demand better. But, don't stop supporting them- no one gets better when you do that. After I found myself doing a little shoulder bop to Bryson's "502 Come Up" when I thought I had sworn his music off forever because he stood me up, I realized that he's just too good to fight the funk. Bryson is quality, girl- he is talented. There's a reason why I waited for hours to see somebody younger than me give me all his vocals- even if that never happened. When it's good, you'll always come back to it- and who knows? If you give it a second chance, it might just come back and be better.