Go through any urban neighborhood or childhood memory, and you’re bound to find a Black owned business. Whether the goods are homemade or products rendered to keep the lights on, many of us can attest to the neighborhood Black business owners who made an entrepreneurial way out of their vision (anyone have a favorite barber or salon?).
In today’s time, more than ever, we find ourselves at the intersecting road of resistance and fighting back, as we fight to articulate the words of an injustice society that continues to foster racism, prejudice, and discrimination. While we shout #BlackLivesMatter in the streets, incidents and horrible realities continue to loom over our heads, that leave many of us wondering, what can we do?
Last year, trending topics and hashtags with #BuyBlack and #BlackonBlack Friday surfaced the Internet, demanding that those of color not buy from any non-Black stores on, arguably, the heaviest day of the year for shopping. As our counterparts would stand in line to reap the big marketed deals from department stores, we would only buy products that supported the Black community in an effort to exercise an economic power that we never knew we had.
We did damage. According to sales reports, the money collected after Black Friday dropped 13% from previous years, only further pushing the idea that the Black community demands to be heard, and if we are not, we will push back with our wallets.
Companies like Black Opal Cosmetics (pictured above) have given Women of Color an opportunity to find a variety of shades suited for our skin and made especially for us. Why continue to go to other brands and companies where your skin color is never present (or it’s a literal fight to find a shade that suits you)? As we continue to see Black progression in mainstream television shows and movie premieres, we must be ever cognizant of supporting our Black entrepreneurs working to better the system. We are quick to support box office hits with Michael B. Jordan, Denzel or Will Smith, shows with Kerry Washington, Viola Davis or Gabrielle Union; however, we don’t use the same fervor in supporting businesses around us run by our own people. If we don’t support our own people, who will?
If we made a conscientious effort to actively support at least one new Black business a month, imagine the message that would be sent to mainstream society on purchasing power in the Black community. Nubian Skin made headlines when they came out with hosiery, bras and panties found for even the richest deep skin. It has garnered a support group from more than just one racial background, but for every woman who does not fit into the three or four color variations of ‘flesh’ toned tights. Now imagine if these businesses became so successful they were able to donate money back into the community through after-school projects, programs and social initiatives to help those in poverty and in need. I’ve seen it for myself and know that it can be done.
I have an entire lifetime to support a society that loves my money but doesn’t love my skin. But I will have only one chance to make a statement with where my coins go, and to show America that I need to be seen as an asset to the economic conversation. Black owned businesses don’t just pop up around this time of year, so I charge you to support these businesses year-round. Make your voice heard by economically empowering your people and businesses that perhaps care more about you than large, industry-like brands that don’t even market your skin tone in their catalogues.
That is why I support Black owned businesses and will be supporting them this year for Black Friday and onward. And if you need some help deciding where to shop this year before the holidays, check out our recent article on Black Owned Businesses here.