One of the many thought provoking songs on Stevie Wonder’s 1976 double album Songs in the Key of Life is “Black Man”. The first line is “First man to die for the flag we now hold high (Crispus Attucks) was a Black man.”
The lyrics go on to tell of the many unnoticed or underappreciated contributions people of color have made to America. Then there’s this striking, still relevant passage:
“We pledge allegiance all our lives to the magic colors red, blue, and white, but we all must be given the liberty that we defend. For with justice not for all men history will repeat again. It’s time we learned this world was made for all men.”
Unfortunately, many people would agree that Stevie’s impassioned declaration still does not reflect reality in America 40 years later. With modern technology and social media we continue bear witness to the brutal racism and racialized violence that still exists at an unfathomable level in America.
Just as Black Lives Matter, Black (earned) dollars matter. We must use our money to further prove just how much Black Lives Matter by supporting Black owned businesses. By doing this, we will demonstrate to non-Black owned businesses that our spending (or the absence thereof) is hugely significant. This is a call to action!
Ways to Begin your Shoppe Black Journey
Shopping Black is more than buying African print fashion, jewelry, and art, although buying those things is meaningful too. The goal of this article is to encourage you to dig deep and see where you can send significant amounts of money to Black owned businesses. Below are four steps to shopping Black and making a difference.
- Understand what your spending habits are. If you already have a budget you follow, this should be easy to do. Otherwise, jot down a list of all the categories of your spending. Then, next to each category, list the companies and professionals your money typically goes to each month. Here is a sample:
Having an understanding of what you spend your money on and where you spend it is a great first step to shopping Black because you can then look for Black owned options that fit your specific needs and desires.
Simply committing to not buying products by big, multinational companies or not shopping at big box stores does not get you closer to spending your money with Black businesses.
Bonus: If you are someone who does not budget every month, completing this step puts you in a position to do so!
- Research Black Owned Businesses
Next, and this will take some patience and effort, you should research Black owned businesses and professionals that can fulfill your needs and wants. Refinancing your mortgage with a Black bank may not be a feasible or realistic short-term goal. However, who are the professionals within those companies that currently loan or hold your money?
You’re going to want to build relationships with them. This goes for insurance agents, realtors, mortgage brokers, etc. With respect to the entertainment category, consider “BlackandSexyTV and Chill” instead of “Netflix and Chill.”
(Sidenote: the author is #TeamMilan! The actress is her BFF and linesister). If you want a simple place to start researching Black owned business, start at your plate. Look for local, Black farmers as a source for your food.
- Build Your Shopping Black Team
Outside of gift and clothing products, it can be challenging to find Black business, especially if you do not live in a diverse area. Therefore, you should build a Shoppe Black team. Your team can be made up of friends and family, or folks from your place of worship. It can be your sorority sisters or fraternity brothers.
Any logical connection to similarly interested people will work. If you have difficulty finding people in your personal network seek out like-minded people in groups such as Girltrek, Outdoor Afro, and on platforms such as MeetUp.com.
And don’t think your team of people who are shopping Black have to only be Black. While the political statement of Blacks demonstrating the tremendous monetary power we have in the US is very critical, it is also important that Black businesses thrive and that requires everyone’s support.
4 . Spend, Document, and Share
Spending your Black dollars after you followed the first three steps should be easy. You should also document what you do and share your successes and learning moments with your network and the world. The Shoppe Black team would love help you do just that. When you share your Black business spending use the hashtag #ShoppeBlack. Also mention Shoppe Black on Twitter and Instagram (@shoppeblack).
The Bottom Line
No matter what the reach of your spending is, you can make a difference in Black spending by directing money from just one budget item to a Black business or professional. The more you direct to Black Business, the greater the impact this entire movement will have.
The author of this article recently had a “Shoppe Black Saturday” during which she endeavored to consume food and drink grown and/or sold by Black businesses. It’s a lot tougher than you think. Learn more about her experience here.
– Contributed by Mavis Gragg
Mavis Gragg is an attorney at the Gragg Law Firm, PLLC in Durham, North Carolina where she specializes in estate planning and estate administration. She is very passionate about maintaining and growing Black wealth through sound legal strategies and problem solving. When she is not being a justice girl, she can be found at an art gallery, trotting the globe, or on the dance floor.