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Young Blacks Want Their Own Businesses

The Bottom Line: What future entrepreneurs will look like, Georgetown's biz-school dean and more.

David A. Thomas

The writers and editors of Businessinsider.com must be sure that most of their readers don't read Black Enterprise or know any black entrepreneurs (paging Michael Arrington), a conclusion that is also probably true, to a certain extent, for many Americans regardless of race or ethnicity.

Most Americans also don't pay much attention to census reports. Otherwise, more would know that blacks have been creating their own businesses at a record pace for more than a decade. Businessinsider.com's breathless and squirm-inducing headline, "You'll Be Surprised by What the Future Crop of Entrepreneurs Is Going to Look Like," actually leads to a positive, if short, article.

It says, "According to a Gallup poll of a representative sample of 1,721 children in fifth through 12th grade conducted this spring, African-American kids were significantly more likely than white kids to report that they plan to start a business. While 39 percent of white children said they plan to start a business, 52 percent of African-American children reported this intention."

Hooray for all the black children who want to build capital instead of just earning income. To paraphrase my late entrepreneur father, who became an adult during American apartheid: The best way to keep the (white) man off your neck is to make sure he has no control over your wallet.

Georgetown University's New Business School Set His Course

David A. Thomas believes that earning a business degree and finding a job, even in dicey economic times, is realistic. But Thomas, who became the dean of Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business last August, says students who see business school as a placeholder to avoid a weak job market are making an unwise choice. Organizations, he told The Root recently, hire focused individuals who have taken advantage of the value and format of the business schools they attended.

The Yale alumnus, with a Ph.D. in organizational behavior, understands such corporate decision-making. When Georgetown courted him in 2010, Thomas was the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, director of its Organizational Behavior Unit and a former HBS senior associate dean. 

H. Naylor Fitzhugh, a Harvard University graduate, was one of the first blacks to receive a Harvard MBA and as a Pepsi-Cola executive developed what is now known as target marketing.

Thomas, a leader in strategic human-resource management, originally wanted to be a lawyer. But then, he said, "I discovered organizational behavior and realized that this profession could make an impact on society."

Georgetown was attractive to him because, he said, as a Jesuit school it emphasizes service, and students are inspired to become leaders in business and society. "We have programs such as Ethics and Leadership, a Business and Public Policy Center, a Center for Financial Markets and Policy and a global social-entrepreneurship program," he said.