NEW White Paper: COVID-19 and BIPOC Entrepreneurs’ Resilience in Metro Detroit

Our NEW White Paper from the RISE Lab aim to cast a light on the struggles that Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs faced during the so-called “First Phase” of the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan (approximately March-July, 2020) and how some of them have been able to bounce back. Because BIPOC entrepreneurs have historically been excluded from resources and opportunities, now, more than ever, it is important to recognize the unique challenges that face BIPOC entrepreneurs, and to establish a well-balanced and equitable system of support for all entrepreneurs.

The overarching theoretical frame used in this White Paper is that of resilience, an interdisciplinary concept in the humanities and social sciences. While definitions of resilience vary, it broadly addresses positive adaptation in the face of adversity. Communication researchers adopt a social and relational stance on the possibilities of recovery from disruption, compared to the traditional coping literature that focuses on individual-centered stress

In the document, which is FREE TO ACCESS HERE, we first explain the key problems faced by BIPOC entrepreneurs in the city of Detroit. Next, we highlight the strategies they utilized to remain resilient during this time of crisis. Finally, we present recommendations for policymakers and entrepreneurial support organizations for ongoing support to BIPOC entrepreneurs, as they continue to endure and attempt to recover from this unprecedented crisis.

This White Paper is based primarily on in-depth oral history interviews conducted via Zoom, for approximately 1 hour each, with nine BIPOC entrepreneurs based in Metro-Detroit. The interviews were conducted during Oct-Dec 2020, and focused on the unique stories and lived experiences of these entrepreneurs during the so-called “First Wave” of COVID-19 in Michigan, during Mar-Jul 2020. The oral history narrators informing this work are: Kwaku Osei-Bonsu and Lloyd Talley, Pamela Hilliard-Owens, Toney Hughes, Sr., Tyrik Davis, Ashley Mattison, Thea and Mark Parker, Jade Miller, Reva Germain, and Robin Kinnie.

The authors of this White Paper are WSU Dept. of Communication undergraduate students Sean Camburn, Kai English, Olivia Monette, Danyyil Nosovskiy and Elizabeth Scofield, PhD student Allison Lucas, Lecturer at the WSU School of Social Work Marijo Upshaw and myself. We hope you find reading this report both illuminating and helpful!


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