Today (July 7) is Blackout Day, a movement encouraging blacks and people of color (BIPOC) and their allies to come together in solidarity and end systemic racism through their economic power, by refusing to spend a dime at any business unless Black-owned.
How did Blackout Day begin?
According to Wikipedia, the event was conceived in 2015 by Tumblr user T’von Green after noticing too few Black creators on social media. He shares, “Damn, I’m not seeing enough Black people on my dash. Of course I see a constant amount of Black celebrities but what about the regular people? Where is their shine?”
This year the event has garnered further attention on the back of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, with Texas-based musician and activist Calvin Martyr popularising the #BlackoutDay2020 call-to-action after posting about it in a YouTube video on May 8.
Martyr has compared this movement to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a political and social protest that began in December 5, 1955 and ended 12 months later in December 20, 1956, after Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat for a white man, as was required by Alabama’s segregation laws at the time.
“I believe, we believe, that if we unite enough people for one day to not spend their dollars, it will make an impact in the economy, and they will take notice.” – Calvin Martyr
The economic might of Black people in the US alone make up an estimated $1 trillion. According to Martyr, combined with the economic power of all people of color including Native Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics, it comes to $3.9 trillion.
The timing of the movement is critical. The COVID-19 lockdowns have disproportionately impacted Black Americans and buying from Black-owned businesses has never mattered more.
If you believe in racial and economic justice and need to shop today, make sure to support Black-owned businesses, whether online or a traditional bricks-and-mortar store.
Here’s a quick list of Black-owned conscious businesses to support:
If you need to update your make-up collection but want something safe for your skin and is kind to the earth, check out Beauty Bakerie. Their products are vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free and smudge-proof.
Founder and CEO Cashmere Nicole isn’t just committed to producing products that are kind to people, animals and planet, she has a mission to create a positive impact on the lives of children across the globe through her foundation, Sugar Homes which has partnered with Hopeworth Children’s Foundation involves to construct a new orphanage in Uganda, in in addition to providing clothes, food, and school fees for their orphans. A portion of every Beauty Bakerie sale goes to Sugar Homes foundation. So far, the organisation has raised $110, 382, helped to build two orphanages and helped 41 children.
Founded by former photographer and St. Louis resident Sofi Seck who hails from Senegal, West Africa, Expedition Subsahara offers beautiful, traditionally handwoven African goods that add style and happiness into your home.
According to Seck, the average Senegal household earns just $80-$100, roughly the same cost as university fees. “In Senegal, quality education is for the elite. I plan to change that,” she writes. The decision to give 20% of profits to an education fund to help a STEM school in Senegal is one way the business gives back.
The brainchild of Exeter University graduate Kalkidan Legesse and Vidmantas Markevicius, Sancho’s is an ethical clothing and fairtrade homewares shop in the UK, that has two store locations as well as an online marketplace. Launched in 2014, the shop curates high-quality, responsibly produced clothing for women and men as well as ethical homewares, eco beauty and lifestyle products. It also stocks popular BIPOC-founded sustainable brands such as Girlfriend Collective and Thinx.
After becoming frustrated with the limited skin tone options for Black women, Shontay Lundy founded Black Girl Sunscreen, a safe, hydrating, cruelty-free and reef-safe sunscreen that contain no nasty chemicals such as parabens, Oxybenzone and Octinoxate.
Fashion designer Aliya Wanek, whose parents are from Trinidad and who was raised in a West Indian household, founded her eponymous label in 2016 blending classic American style with a Japanese twist. Producing small batches of beautiful, timeless garments from natural fibers and carefully hand-dyed, this gorgeous sustainable label is the epitome of slow fashion.
Hanging out for coffee isn’t the safest thing to do right now given COVID-19 (depending on where you are of course, some cities have started reopening businesses) but you can get a bag or two of Blk & Bold’s delicious micro-roasted specialty coffee or loose leaf specialty tea online. Founders, Pernell and Rod created the business with the intention of making “purpose popular”. BLK & Bold pledges five percent of its profits to initiatives aligned to sustaining youth programming, enhancing workforce development, eradicating youth homelessness and supporting at-risk youth locally and across the United States. The products are also available at Target, Whole Foods Market and Amazon.
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Cover image via Aliya Wanek.