From a high-class hood that was once a plantation to “The Black Beverly Hills,” these nabes are home to the melanated, moneyed set. Many Black business owners are choosing to move into their own gated and secured communities.
Building supportive ecosystems for Black-owned US businesses is the first priority to sustain our communities and using group economics meaning to patronize our black owned businesses before we go to others even if they are pricier because they in turn have contracted to patronize yours!
The right business ecosystems can mitigate or negate the effects of systemic structural obstacles to business building for Black business owners—and add $290 billion in business equity.
Entrepreneurship and business ownership—particularly of community-based businesses—are crucial ways to develop community wealth, for both business owners and the people they employ who ideally are residents of the community. Healthy Black-owned businesses could be a critical component for closing the United States’ Black–white wealth gap, which we project will cost the economy $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion (in 2018 dollars) per year by 2028.
Black Americans have never had an equal ability to reap the benefits of business ownership. While about 15 percent of white Americans hold some business equity, only 5 percent of Black Americans do. Among those with business equity, the average Black American’s business equity is worth about 50 percent of the average American’s and a third of the average white American’s. The answer is to invest in different types of business models like cooperatives where we can utilize a combined value of dollar equity to build sustainable business without banks that have traditionally redlined loans to black businesses. Instead black owned credit unions and banks with proven records of community support can be utilized.
Also foreign investment where are dollar is worth five to ten times such as the African and South or central American suppliers can be utilized cutting out the middleman. Home ownership utilizing cooperatives is also a way to maximize real estate development along with land purchase and tiny house or Net Zero home developments. Community gardens and planting community fruit groves increases the value by adding green spaces even if an area is small trees equate to higher home values and alleviate hot spots that could be problematic due to climate change.
Hit television shows about Black elite life like Our Kind of People, Harlem and The Real Housewives of Potomac have given us a once-a-week peek into the living rooms, backyards and playgrounds of the melanated, moneyed set. This spotlight on well-heeled Black professionals, business owners and their heirs has piqued interest in the lifestyles of the Black elite. Where do the wealthiest Black people find and invest in community? What are some of the most affluent Black enclaves in America, and what is it really like to live in them?
All-Black neighborhoods proliferated due to race-based restrictive housing laws, which forced Blacks who had the money to buy homes to cluster in distinct areas. Even the rich were redlined, resulting in elite Black communities that still thrive today. Los Angeles County has a few affluent neighborhoods, most notably Baldwin Hills, a Black celebrity haven dubbed “The Black Beverly Hills.” There’s also Prince George’s County, Maryland, and the influential Black suburb of Washington, D.C., that’s featured on The Real Housewives of Potomac, and we can’t forget the arts hamlet of Harlem, in New York City, glamorized on the hit Starz drama Run the World. Other bougie enclaves we’ll explore include Olympia Fields, Illinois. Some honorable mentions: Cedar Hills, Texas, and Wheatley Heights and Hillcrest, New York.
View Park–Windsor Hills, Los Angeles County, California
View Park–Windsor Hills is one of the richest Black communities in the U.S. and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is also producer-actor Issa Rae’s hometown and the inspiration for her HBO drama Insecure, about Black L.A. single life. On the show, Rae intentionally features the sexy and chic side of L.A.’s Black neighborhoods. Neighborhood vibe: Besides the stunning downtown views, this tranquil and low-key hillside neighborhood also boasts “a cornucopia of architectural styles,” says longtime resident Steven Lott, an architect and managing principal at Raw International.
Lott appreciates its association with the vibrant cultural arts of the adjacent Black village of Leimert Park, as well as its own rich heritage: It was the site of the Olympic Village during the 1932 Olympics. Local hot spot Simply Wholesome is a Black-owned casual health-food restaurant and market where you might just spot a celebrity. Well-known residents, past and present include Doria Ragland, mother of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex; Debbie Allen; Ray Charles; Ike Turner; Tina Turner; Nancy Wilson; Regina King; Issa Rae
All-Black neighborhoods proliferated due to race-based restrictive housing laws, which forced Blacks who had the money to buy homes to cluster in distinct areas. Even the rich were redlined, resulting in elite Black communities that still thrive today.
Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles County, California
Baldwin Hills is the largest middle- and upper-class Black community in Los Angeles. Dubbed “The Black Beverly Hills” because of the actors and musicians who have flocked to it, the community found itself in the spotlight with the BET docudrama Baldwin Hills in 2007. It’s a friendly and quiet community “known for its spectacular views of the ocean, downtown and snow-capped mountains,” says Sheila Coates, a brand strategist and owner of BYOB (byobunlimited.com), who has owned her home for 27 years. Locals love the rich cultural mix of homeowners that include famous entertainers, politicians, executives and entrepreneurs. Also, the closeness to downtown, LAX, Beverly Hills and the beaches. “We are walking distance to Kenneth Hahn State Park’s hiking trails, bike-to-the-beach paths and stunning scenic overlooks,” says Coates. Well-known residents, past and present: Ice Cube, the King of Gospel James Cleveland, former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and musician Lenny Kravitz, who grew up here.
Ladera Heights, Los Angeles County, California
Also with stunning views, it shares a border on the north with Baldwin Hills, on the east with View Park and on the south with Inglewood. Doris Henderson, a retired teacher, and her husband, Franklin, an electrical engineer, originally chose this quiet, picturesque neighborhood 48 years ago. "Our neighbors care not only for their homes and their beautiful neighborhood, but deeply for each other,” says Doris Henderson. She adds that the couple can’t imagine how they would have made it through the COVID-19 lockdown without the help of their loving neighbors. Local hot spot Eat and dance at The New Townhouse, a Black-owned restaurant and nightclub. (thenewtownhousela.com). Well-known residents, past and present: Vanessa Williams, WNBA’s Lisa Leslie, attorney Christopher Darden and rapper Tyler, the Creator. The residents are friendly and welcoming. They wave to passing cars, and the people in the passing cars wave back.
Mitchellville and Woodmore, Prince George’s County, Maryland
Mitchellville is named after the owners of the plantation that it was built on. Today, tobacco farms are replaced by a thriving Black residential community. Overlapping Woodmore is one of the premier gated communities in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. Built around the Country Club at Woodmore, the community has upscale single-family homes within six themed villages. The area is clean and quiet, with tree-lined streets, sprawling green spaces and a championship golf course. It is home to sports stars, CEOs and entrepreneurs. The drama-full ladies of The Real Housewives of Potomac have drawn attention to PG County, showing us that extra-large homes, luxury cars, and designer clothes and shoes are the norm for some here. “Living here definitely has prestige,” says George DuBose III, a Realtor and a 24-year resident. “We have large, stunning homes here along with a country club, a signature Arnold Palmer Golf Course, clay tennis courts, swimming pools, manicured and pristine lawns, and long driveways,” says DuBose. Attorney and community activist Marva Jo Campo points to “the sense of belonging, a pride in our culture, a self-awareness that my daughters have because of living here that can take them anywhere in the world.” Well-known residents, past and present: American ballet dancer, activist and actress Sydney Magruder Washington; Minnesota Lynx guard Lindsay Allen; D.C. United defender Chris Odoi-Atsem; Arkansas Razorbacks guard Chris Lykes; and restaurant chain owner Lance London.
Kettering, Prince Georges County, Maryland
History: An Upper Marlboro, mostly middle-class Black enclave, Kettering is a mix of modest-sized homes and townhomes. Neighborhood vibe: It’s safe, quiet, family-friendly and affordable. ‘When I moved here the homes were affordable and still are, relative to the D.C. market,” says Van Glenn, a federal government human resources executive. “My neighbors are all friendly, and we know each other and look out for one another. It’s very convenient to everything in the area with easy access to the metro and the beltway [to get] into D.C. quickly,” says Glenn. Well-known residents, past and present: Not many. The area is favored by low-key Washington, D.C., government employees.
Harlem, New York City
Harlem has been a creative mecca since the 1920s and ’30s Harlem Renaissance. Today Harlem is an art and fashion mecca. The fiercely fashionable Starz show Run the World is filmed on its streets, styled by icon Patricia Field (Sex and the City). And during New York Fashion Week last year, Harlem’s Fashion Row’s summit attracted fashion’s elite like Anna Wintour; designers Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger; and Harlem native, "Bevelations" author, and radio and television host Bevy Smith. “The Black Harlem experience is my experience, even with gentrification,” says Smith. “Black art, culture, museums, fashion — it’s all here.
Harlem is the cornerstone of Black America.” You'll find folks from all walks of life here. While buyers are snapping up row houses to renovate, most residents are renters, and there is a high density of public housing. These factors are reflected in high home prices for the urban oasis, though residents' average income is lower than the suburbs on this list. “The world was open to me growing up here,” says Smith. “It’s [part of] Manhattan. A few train stops away is Midtown: movies, restaurants … the world. I’ve worked in fashion, advertising, publishing, TV and radio. All of those industries are just two to three stops away.”
Well-known residents, past and present: singer Billie Holiday; writers Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes and James Baldwin; musicians Lionel Hampton, Nina Simone and Tito Puente; actor and activist Harry Belafonte; comedian George Carlin; entertainers Sammy Davis Jr. and Doug E. Fresh; actors Ving Rhames, Angela Bassett and Neil Patrick Harris; poet Maya Angelou; and celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson.
Olympia Fields, Illinois
The village sprang up around the prestigious Olympia Fields Country Club. The golf course has played host to two U.S. Opens and two PGA Championships. The town train station made the community attractive to young Black professional Chicagoans. “Chicago is the type of town where people move on up, but not away. My parents moved on up to the affluent Black neighborhood of Olympia Fields, 15 minutes from our old home and in the same school district, as opposed to moving away from Black people,” says Koku Tona, a journalist and media correspondent for Blackfilm.com. “It’s clean and safe, and it’s the type of town where people regularly take leisurely walks,” says Tona. “The residents are friendly and welcoming. They wave to passing cars, and the people in the passing cars wave back.” Cozy up to the bar at Redwood Luxe Bar and Grill and listen to live music. (redwoodluxe.com)
Well-known residents, past and present: Former NBA player and current basketball analyst Kendall Gill; former Chicago Bears defensive tackle Jim Osborne; singer and producer Rudolph Isley, of the Isley Brothers; musician J. Ivy, of Kanye West fame; Alpha Kappa Alpha's 27th international president, Barbara McKinzie; and actresses Drew Sidora (The Game) and Dee Dee Davis (The Bernie Mac Show), both of whom attended high school in Olympia Fields.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Donna Torrence is a Publicist and Journalist based in NYC.