4th anniversary of George Floyd Death: Sheletta uses award to call for renewed investment in Black-owned businesses

Recognized for “using her pulpit to help Black entrepreneurs” and working to close the employment gap for Minnesotans with autism, Sheletta Brundidge was honored with a Twin Cities Business Community Impact Award.

Her business, ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com, was one of the ten local organizations recognized by the magazine with TCB Community Impact Awards, noted for “moving the needle on equity, education, environment and other pressing societal concerns.”

Brundidge used the recent awards ceremony to deliver a frank message about setbacks in the ongoing struggle for racial equity by Black-owned businesses.

Wearing a denim jacket over a black “All Eyez on Me” T-shirt that quotes Tupac Shakur, Brundidge joined TCB magazine editor-in-chief Allison Kaplan for an onstage interview before the packed room of community and business leaders.

In conversation with Kaplan, Brundidge reflected on the uptick in business that she and other Black business owners experienced following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

“Sympathetic white people in Minnesota realized they did had not been doing right by Black business owners, so they made adjustments to their budget and started diversifying their ad buys, contracting, spending,” she said. “They did that because they made promises that they had to keep. Then they saw that we did the work. They saw results, new customers and clients. We overdelivered.”

But four years later, Brundidge said the money allocated to Black-owned businesses and contractors has dried up.

“Folks are going back to business as usual; it’s the old blues song by B.B King. ‘The Thrill is Gone.’ The Black business owners who saw a boom and an increase in revenue and partnerships after George Floyd died, it’s all gone now.”

Brundidge encouraged those in attendance to renew their efforts for equity, from the top down.

“Look around at your board rooms, your meeting rooms. If no one looks different from you, you are doing a disservice to your customers,” she said. “For so long people have thought, if I’m successful I might be taking something from you. That’s not the case at all. We can have an abundance mentality.”

Brundidge was highlighted on the cover of the April/May edition of the magazine and Kaplan called her the magazine’s “the most enthusiastic cover subject ever.”

Through her podcasting platform, production company and marketing agency, Brundidge conceived and convened the second Black Entrepreneurs Day at the Capitol, to spotlight the unique needs of the state’s Black-owned small businesses.

She also initiated and hosted a first-of-its-kind job fair to connect employment opportunities for adults on the autism spectrum with businesses seeking new workers.

Reflecting on the TCB honor and the growing success of her business, Brundidge credited her professional growth to her personal faith.

“I am doing things that are impossible to do. I wish I could take credit for it. I wish I could say I’m doing it on my own but I’m relying on a power greater than me,” she said.

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