In 2008, Maggie Anderson was doing pretty well. She had a successful career in business consulting, a loving family, a house in the same trendy Chicago suburb where the Obamas lived. But looking around at her mostly white neighbors, she couldn’t shake the guilty feeling that she’d left her people behind. A key source of economic disparity, she realized, was that most businesses in predominantly black neighborhoods weren’t owned by African Americans—and money spent there went elsewhere come closing time. So she persuaded her family to take up a challenge: For a full year, they would attempt to spend their cash exclusively at black-owned businesses. The quest became a book, Our Black Year, which comes out today. Tim McDonnell chats with Anderson about the logistics, being accused of racism, and the fact that you won’t find many black-made productsl at Walmart.

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