When I was about 12 years old, there was this other black girl selling freshly squeezed lemonade in my neighborhood. She was selling each cup for $1.

My dad gave me some money and told me to buy 2 cups of lemonade from her. So I did (even though I wasn’t thirsty, wasn’t particularly fond of any drink aside from water, and it was also rare to see my dad drink lemonade). But I did it. I went up to her stand and bought 2 cups.

When I tried to give my dad his change, he shook his head and said “Give it to her”. I looked at the money in my hand. It was probably about $5-10. I said “Why?? It was only $2 Daddy...”

He gave me that look that said “Just do it”. So I did... I remember the girl smiling at me, looking pleased with herself as she thanked me.

It made me happy to know that I was able to make her happy, but it didn’t stop me from asking my dad “Why?” Why did we just pay damn near $12 for something that would’ve only cost us $2?? I didn’t get it.

He would later explain to me the relevance of this exchange, and the importance of supporting black business. Making entrepreneurs feel like what they are providing is valuable. Making them feel valued as an individual.

Now I understand that by giving that young girl a tip, we were making a statement. A statement that says “I respect what you’re doing here. Keep up the good work.” By giving her more than she had asked for, we showed her that SHE was worth more than she was asking for.

It had nothing to do with the lemonade at all.

That being said,

Let’s do our loved ones a favor and not ask our friends or family members with businesses for free or discounted services in 2018. Let’s pay the full price.

And if the job is done well, then let’s even throw in a tip. If we don’t have the money at the time, instead of asking them to lower their standards, let’s save up and reach out once we’ve saved enough to meet the requirements they’ve set for their business.

Let’s show them that we take them seriously and recognize the value of their service. Let’s pay them what they’re worth.