What 8-Year Old Jordan Rodgers Shows Us About Being Young, Black and an Entrepreneur

Source: Erin Austin
Source: Erin Austin

Many are discussing Alison Ettel, dubbed “Permit Patty” by social media users, who confronted a called the police on 8-year-old Jordan Rodgers as she sold water bottles in San Francisco. Rodgers’ mother Erin Austin filmed the exchange in the now viral video that has garnered almost 10 million views.

According to a report from CBS News, Jordan was selling the waters to help pay for a trip to Disneyland– a trip her family was planning before her mother suddenly lost her job.

“It kind of sidelined us a little bit. And my daughter just wanted to help,” Austin said.

In spite of the incident, Jordan plans to continue to sell waters; and musician Jonathan Brannon volunteered to sponsor Jordan and her family’s trip to Disneyland.

This echoes reports of four young Black men in Washington, D.C. who were handcuffed in 2017 for selling water at the National Mall. Although Jordan’s story has a happier ending, it still begs the question of how society responds to Black youth’s efforts to actualize their goals and/or provide for themselves and their families. Both of these stories send the message that selling water in your community while being young and Black is a punishable offense.

Some argue that Jordan should have had a permit to sell the water, but it’s also harmful to assume that all young people have knowledge or access to learn information about proper paperwork and procedure when looking to start their own business.

“She asked me where’s my permit,” Rodgers said. “I didn’t know what a permit was.”

Instead of reprimanding Black youth about the appropriate steps they may have missed while starting their entrepreneurial journey, educate them or direct them to where they can learn. For example, check out Walker’s Legacy’s Girls Who Enterprise program, which provides curriculum to girls ages 12-18 on the basics of entrepreneurship.

Kesi Felton

Fellow

Kési Felton is a junior Journalism major from Atlanta, Georgia.She currently serves as the Content Director for Her Campus Howard and the Director of Communications for the Howard University Student Association. In addition to writing her own personal blog, she has written articles for The Hilltop, Walker's Legacy and Pretty Girls Sweat, LLC. Through digital storytelling, Kési hopes to amplify the voices and stories of underrepresented communities, beginning with Black women.

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