Buying Black: A Lifelong Mood
The last few years have seen a resurgence in affirming black identity, culture, and solidarity. Black business and entrepreneurship have also been thrust back into the spotlight, with “buying black” re-emerging as a show of solidarity and method of black empowerment. There are millions of black businesses, both online and brick-and-mortar, which have quality products and services. In larger cities with more diverse populations, like D.C., Atlanta, and Houston, the prevalence of these businesses is even greater.
So, if it’s dope to be black, support black, and shop black, why isn’t it second nature for our communities? Not even 100 years ago, one of the most the most successful black cities in the nation, Greenwood, Oklahoma was destroyed in a racist act of terror resulting in the death and displacement of thousands of black people. I’m not sure we’ve had such a prominent and flourishing black community since then.
When I talk to people about reinvesting their earnings in the black community, there are always two barriers: marketing and convenience. Advertising is integrated heavily into our daily lives and influences much of our consumerism. Black businesses, even the most successful ones, are still small compared to Coca-Cola, Bounty, and Tide. So how do these businesses reach consumers? This brings me to my first point in changing buying black from a fad into a lifestyle:
You’re going to have to meet black businesses halfway.
We’re used to being catered to. Strong brands have the capability to target our mobile devices, check our shopping habits online, and meet us everywhere we are (virtually and physically) with personalized offers. Buying black in a significant way is going to require a change in lifestyle. Not just buying one or two items from time to time from favored boutiques, but altering your shopping habits so that you become a consistent patron of brands and stores that offer life product essentials.
So, it’s going to be an exercise in relinquishing some of the privilege of convenience. The first step is deciding to buy black. That is, making a commitment to investing your dollars in small, minority and women-owned businesses. Make a list of all the things you buy on a monthly basis, and start to figure out which things you could afford to search a little harder for, or wait a little longer for (many black businesses operate 100% through e-commerce). You have to suspend the perception that big brand products are always better quality, and that if you can't have something immediately, you don’t want it. You’ll have to get online and search for companies to support. Instagram, Twitter, Etsy, and Tumblr are laden with black burgeoning black businesses.
Be patient with small, minority owned business operations. They should always be striving to provide exemplary customer service, but understand that many of these businesses cannot staff a customer service representative full-time to address every concern. I know so many black entrepreneurs who work all day at a 9-5 and then come home and address their businesses and respond to customer concerns. Cut them some slack. Show a little empathy.
I love going out to eat. I had to make an effort to start going to the black restaurants, especially when I travel. Sometimes it takes a little extra research beforehand. I found a black business that makes men's’ socks and underwear. We always need socks and underwear! And soap and lotion. The Natural Market is one of my favorite places to get soap, hair and skin care products, and candles! I’ve provided a starter list of some of my favorite essentials-providing black businesses below. Today is a perfect day to make buying black a #mood.
Laundry Detergent: https://www.thetrueproducts.com/
Toilet Paper, Cleaning Supplies, & Paper Towels: http://www.freedompapercompany.com/
Grocery stores and farms: https://blackmainstreet.net/black-farmers-and-grocery-stores-to-buy-from/
Men’s Dress Shirts and Accessories: https://www.jmshirts.com/