Among many sweeping social changes the year 2020 will be remembered for is the broad conscious awakening of white America to social and economic disparities in the Black community.
Many Americans seeking to personally combat racial injustice have landed on the idea of actively using their purchase power to support Black-owned businesses. What's behind their thinking, and how can consumers get on board?
Righting a History of Wrongs
Discriminatory lending practices, less venture capital, and more trouble landing grants and loans from the Small Business Administration are only a few of the barriers generations of Black Americans have had to overcome to open and grow businesses.
Despite new public awareness, the discrimination continues. An estimated 90% of Black-owned businesses were ineligible or denied forgivable loans from the government's $2.2 trillion CARES Act last year, making the plight of Black-owned businesses even direr during the pandemic.
The Broader Impact of Shopping Black
When consumers consciously choose to support a Black-owned business by shopping, they are also supporting communities. Studies show businesses employ mostly people from their community, and funds from the business build up that community, says Karriem Kanston, "The Encourager" and owner of Kanston Development, a management consulting firm that assists small businesses with growth strategies in Providence, Rhode Island. "[You] invest in the community by becoming a customer of these businesses."
"Black-owned businesses support black communities, enabling them to uplift themselves," says Jacob J. Sapochnick, an immigration attorney and serial entrepreneur at the Law Offices of Jacob J. Sapochnick in San Diego. "Supporting a black-owned business generates wealth and more resources to build a more stable and productive environment for future generations."
Where to Start
The first challenge facing consumers interested in joining the movement is identifying Black-owned businesses to support. Fortunately, as the concept has entered the mainstream, a new crop of businesses is springing up to help connect the businesses and consumers looking to find them.
We Buy Black connects consumers with regular household products like dish soap and laundry detergent sold by Black-owned businesses.
Official Black Wall Street and Where U Came From are apps that help people find Black-owned businesses in their own communities.
In addition to patronizing Black-owned businesses, leaving reviews and spreading the word is another way to make an impact.
Make It a Habit
To be truly effective, supporting Black-owned businesses should be a year-round goal, not just following publicized racial injustice. Experts say it's an economic-led approach to the systemic oppression of the Black community.
"For the United States economy to prosper, there must be a concerted effort for more Black-owned businesses to be a part of the entire economy," says Kanston. Consumers looking to be a part of that change may need to look no farther than their weekly shopping list.