A couple days ago I received an automated email from Etsy announcing a worldwide contest for a small business to win 10k to transform their business. I Immediately became excited about the possibility of what winning 10K could do for me and my small business. I've been eyeing a location across the street from the projects I grew up in for my wine-bar café concept that I plan on opening at the end of this year. I spoke to the owner, and sadly he does not want any kind of bar/food businesses that would draw a crowd and noise since he is up in age and still lives with his family above the store. He told me that I wouldn't believe how many people have come to him with the same idea. I coyly corrected him, "Yes ideas, but not the same one." He smiled and shook his head. He then said he would prefer something like a real estate office. I kind of felt a little sad because that storefront calls my spirit every time I walk by. It's a cute little bodega storefront with an adorable canopy awning situated in between some beautiful Whitestone houses on Franklin Avenue. You have to go down about three steps to enter and it has a charm that reminds me of my childhood. Back in the day, it used to be an up and running family grocery store where I remember being sent to get some Lucy's and a liter of Pepsi for my grandmother on a weekly basis. Now, the owner knew that the Lucy's weren't for me, obviously, and he never hesitated to hand me a small brown paper bag with the requested items. My grandmother used to let me keep the change and I would get as many Swedish fish as possible with the balance. Back then they were only five cents so I would cash out with as many as 10 little red fishes in a separate brown little paper bag. I called them "my Lucy's". The owner remembers me, and I hope to get him to reconsider.

So flash forward from memory lane. I'm scrolling through my Instagram feed and I come across a hashtag from the contest that I entered to win 10K to transform my small business from Etsy named, #DifferenceMakeUs. I happened to find a small business that has over 40,000 followers competing for the same prize. In that moment, I felt incapable, disenfranchised and small, with my dwindling 413 followers on my business Instagram account. I was filled with so much doubt, even if for a very brief moment. Here I am, photoshopping my little flyer, to get my friends to vote for me so that I may do better for myself, my business and my community, and here's this 40K plus business on Instagram that has 2000 likes on their beautifully photographed contest poster. Obviously, there is a huge difference in our numbers. And if there's one thing we all know, it's that numbers don't lie. At the end of the day, I'm sure she'll get at least 50% of those likes to turn into votes. I was so angry in the moment that I felt compelled to send her a message. I wanted to become a black mirror for just two seconds. Y'all can read the message below:

Me: Gee, how can a small business like mine, compete with a business who has a following of 40K? ???? Sigh…good luck though, seems like you have a lot of it. It's all love!

Business: I'm a small business too, I've just been on Instagram for years. It's not luck, just time. Best of luck to you!

Me: Thank you! Things are difficult in this world for a marginalized woman of color, disenfranchised from birth, but I do believe that I can manifest anything I desire. The likelihood of me winning is realistically slim, but I know the universe appreciates my resilience. Bless you and the best of luck as well!

As I began typing, something in me switched. I don't know where I thought the conversation was going to go. It was a spur of the moment ratchet decision but as she replied, as someone endowed with privilege would, I could only feel nothing but love, and appreciation for myself. I am so proud of myself. I am in awe of my abilities. I'm stunned by the fact that I have taught myself the entire Adobe suite and have used it to better my business and save money in the process. I am impressed with my willingness to surrender my fear and go after whatever it is in this world that I desire – even if I suffer for a few years. We live in a world where "small businesses" with 40K followings, looking to "transform" a small business that looks pretty darn "transformed" to me can enter a contest and easily wipe out the competition and beat a lesser known business by sheer numbers on a voting scale. That's part of capitalism right there. That's our whole damn political system! It's a setup for impossible success obviously for someone with significantly less visibility. Couldn't Etsy come up with a better way to do this? Why not base the win on impact? I don't know. Would I be doing too much to say that if I had 40K followers on my already existing business Instagram profile, that I spent "time" on Instagram building, that I wouldn't try to get a free 10K because of my straight-up upper hand on the competition with numerical odds in my favor? Well, I've never had that type of privilege, but based on the badge of character I wear on my chest, as a result of being a marginalized, and disenfranchised women of color, that's a loss that I personally would most likely take —  to let somebody without the same level of opportunity get a piece of the proverbial pie. I don't know, maybe I'm a socialist at heart or maybe I just believe in fairness. Or maybe, I'm just sick of the little guy finishing last. Whatever it is, it caused me to lose my mind for two minutes and send a random message to a business with a public figure level social media presence that will probably win that transformative $10,000. 

With a blessing of $10,000, I would be able to start my mission to "Take Back Bedstuy" by opening a small storefront where I will offer tarot card readings with my own Brown Girl Tarot™ Tarot cards (that are in the works by the way) and healing services to people in my community who otherwise would have no accessibility to this type of work, as well sell my products to empower and uplift women of color, whilst fostering a strong connection to self-love, self-expression, and spirituality to all people. My company, Brown Girl Inc. would truly be transformed and I would be carrying out my mission as light-worker to raise the consciousness of people of color to help better ourselves through spirit first, and everything else will come.

So Ms.40K small business lady may win that 10K and may be able to afford to garner another 40,000 followers, but what she will never have, is the feeling of my pure happiness and victory when I attain my dreams in the skin that I have been given and the spirit, wisdom, and inspiration that I have gained from my struggles. She will never know how it feels to open — or at least try to open — a storefront in a neighborhood that has become totally gentrified, and a location that holds an essence of her childhood, just sitting there, closed.  

My chance of winning obviously is not as likely as hers but the resilient energy I put out into the universe will come back to me. She says: "It's not luck, it's time"  Well hunny, myself and the people before me have put in a whole lot of time and It's about time we had a little "luck." For me, maybe, luck will not be in the form of 10K from the Etsy Small Business contest, but it will come back tenfold from the source itself.

You can still vote, though….remember, #DifferenceMakesUs

Sips Melonade…