I was wondering what Black History month meant to me personally.
Sure, we had years of class assignments inspired by figures in our academic settings. As we grow and become more self-aware, Many of us -myself included- ventured across paths that uniquely allowed use to self identify with our heritage. Sometimes it was because of racial injustice, other times, its simply by seeing a stranger rise and sharing a glimmer of that light thanks to a cultural association; “look at my people!”.
With no assignments due, or planned projects to honor the past, what if I lived in the dream instead?
Could I solely survive on black-owned businesses?
If you’ve seen Killer Mike’s “Tigger Warning” episode where he attempts this, then you may already know the answer. For those who haven’t, I highly recommend watching the first episode where he attempts to only buy from black-owned businesses for a day, including basic needs like food and travel arrangements. To sum up the general impression I took away from it; No, and kinda.
Depending on your locality, it may be impossible to only use black-owned anything. To be fair, we need to stress that this isn’t a call to ONLY live, breathe and eat black-owned. This is a melting pot of a country for the most part. It shouldn’t be lost on us however, that many cultures get by just fine with their community roots. Statistically speaking, the black community is the lowest-ranked when it comes to how long we can keep a dollar in our community. This is compared to Asian, and Jewish communities where each dollar can have anywhere between 7-11 cycles within that community before it leaves.
Years ago when these stats started to make its way around the web, and our cultural influencers integrated the numbers into monologs and economic rallies, a dollar in most Black communities stayed for about 1 exchange.
Personally I have faith that those numbers have improved. I know quite a few black entrepreneurs and small business owners who contribute to markets like fashion and apparel.
What about my taxes?
This personal error at establishing relationships within each element of my life that a black-owned business can accommodate is an embarrassing lapse in ‘wokeness’.
For the month of February 2020, my goal to establish a lifestyle where black-owned businesses fore fill as much as my life’s needs and wants as possible.
That’s not what concerns me, however. What keeps me wondering are businesses where Black Americans have no representation or ownership in.
To illustrate my point, I don’t know a Black-owned utility company in NYC. That’s not to say they don’t exist, I’m saying I didn’t just look them up for the sake of this article.
I can say this about several commodities and utilities within the Black community and the truth is, within most markets there really isn’t any representation for daily needs. At the very least, not ones enough of us are aware of to truly support until it builds a strong foundation within competitive markets.
What to wear?
To start, I buy more and more from my own brand. And if I don’t have it, I make it or have it made. This currently applies to clothes and accessories. So for basic wardrobe needs, aurorasoul.com has it covered.
I’m not the best with accessories, so I refer to KhandieWoo when I want to buy something contemporary or a reimagination of a traditional style.
Ah...check, check, check (private listing;)
Body & Haircare
Taj and livi are 1st to come to mind of a black-owned and Women-owned brand that anyone can rely on when it comes to quality, creative and healthy alternatives to big industry skin and hair care.
There are also a number of small grocery and health food shops that are black-owned which I could depend on for shopping essentials. Where it gets grey is when it comes down to all the products. In a few cases, even the brands are black-owned to a degree, allegedly.
I am by far not trying to attest to how efficient I am at community living. I’m at about a good 25% tops. I have a few mentors that are likely way more effective at investing money back into their communities.
The goal, of course, is to have as much representation within our economic structure as possible. In order to take full advantage of the positive economic resources in my community, I have to change default habits and ask if I could buy the next item I'm searching for from a community based or broader black-owned institution.
If you know of any great black-owned brands or see an untapped market, now is the time to spread the word and inspire. Leave a comment so we can do our part and spread the word too!