Recently a spotlight has been placed on the glaring disparities faced by the Black community, and these disparities have only been furthered by the disproportionate impact of this year’s global pandemic on people of color. It begs an answer to the question: What can you as an ally do to help combat these inequities? One of the best and most direct ways to help the Black community is to support local Black-owned businesses.
Black businesses have needed support well before the COVID-19 pandemic. While the number of firms has grown nationwide over the years, only nine percent of all United States businesses are Black owned. While white-owned businesses take in about 88 percent of American gross receipts, while Black businesses claim only 1.3 percent of total U.S. sales despite the Black community making up 13 percent of the population. During the pandemic, Black businesses have been much less likely to receive assistance from loan programs created by the CARES Act such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). They have also been impacted more directly since the retail and service industries (many of which were forced to close) make up a considerably greater portion of Black-owned businesses.
Here in Mecklenburg County, rapid urban renewal and gentrification have threatened to leave struggling minority businesses behind. To counter this, organizations like Black Businesses of Charlotte (BBOC) have made it their mission to support Black businesses and connect them to customers and valuable resources. In October, the BBOC hosts its 4th Annual Black Restaurant Week featuring special offers at various Black-owned restaurants from October 19-31, 2020. The organization will also host Black Food Truck Friday on October 30, 2020. Black Restaurant Week is the perfect opportunity to go out, stimulate the economy and support your favorite local Black-owned restaurant.
In reality, one week (or in this case, two) will not stop an economic crisis or save all of Charlotte’s Black businesses. Still, it is a step in the right direction. With social justice and equity initiatives on the rise, Black-owned businesses are seeing an unprecedented rush of support from customers of all races who want to see a more equitable future for their city. To make a permanent change, commitment to patronizing businesses like these must occur on a regular basis. It’s important to do one’s part to create a future where everyone can thrive.
For programming and events information on the Black Lives Matter program at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, click here.
This blog was written by Darius Smalls of ImaginOn Library.