In the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the Minneapolis Police, many Americans are wondering how they can support black communities better. They may be taking part in protests, signing petitions, and calling their representatives to demand immediate reforms to policing. Another arena we can turn to is the green economy: to support Black communities, we must support Black-owned business.
Structural racism in the US extends beyond policing and includes economic inequality that is driven by centuries of racist practices and policies, starting with slavery and extending through the present, exemplified in current practices like redlining, employment discrimination, predatory lending, and many other actions that reinforce white supremacy.
In addition, corporate leaders are not doing enough to help promote Black employees to leadership positions, and as a result only three percent of C-suite executives are Black.
Those practices have devastating impacts on Black communities. In Minneapolis, white residents bring home more than twice as much income on average as Black residents. And while 76 percent of white families in Minneapolis own their homes, only 25 percent of Black families do so.
We need to urge our politicians to address all aspects of racism, and at the same time, we can all take action in our daily lives to support Black communities economically with our spending and investing.
7 Actions to Support Black Communities
1. Shop at local Black-owned stores. With COVID-19 hitting small businesses hard and many Black-owned businesses locked out of government loans, it is more important than ever to shop local. Green America’s 6 Reasons to Support Black Owned Businesses can help you get started in your community. There are several apps that can help, as well as the website Five Fifths. And you can find minority-owned green businesses online that are members of our Green Business Network.
2. Dine at Black-owned restaurants. Black-owned restaurants play a vital role in building community. But, even some of the most long-standing Black-owned restaurants in the US, like Ben’s Chile Bowl in DC, are at risk in this economy. Seek out Black-owned restaurants in your community and order directly from them for pick up (since using delivery apps cuts into their revenues) or join them for outdoor dining (depending on where you live and what is safe for you). The EatOkra app lists Black-owned restaurant options in many cities.
3. Move your banking out of megabanks and into Black-owned and community development banks and credit unions. You can find Black-owned banks and credit unions on the BlackOut site or Watch the Yard. You can find community development banks and credit unions, including minority-owned institutions, that support their local communities through Green America’s Get A Better Bank database.
4. Divest from private prisons and fossil fuels. Private prisons profit off of and drive higher rates of incarceration for Black people. Fossil fuel companies produce pollutants that disproportionately impact Black communities and communities of color overall. You can find out if you have stock or mutual funds in your portfolio that support private prisons using Investigate. You can find out if you are investing in fossil fuels using As You Sow’s Fossil Free tool. And check out Green America’s Divest & Reinvest for funds to invest in that support clean energy instead.
5. Take part in the 15 Percent Pledge. Encourage national stores you shop in to carry 15 percent of the products on their shelves from Black-owned businesses. You can do so by talking to the store manager, leaving comment cards at the store, and reaching out to the store online. The more people who ask stores to take action, the more likely they are to do so. Nike, Amazon, and Sephora have expressed their support, and now need to take concrete action. Many retailers have not even expressed support. You can follow the campaign on Instagram.
6. Seek out Black professionals. Are you looking for a doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, therapist, wedding planner, or architect? Choose to spend your time and money at a Black-owned private practices.
7. Buy from Black-owned farms. Less than 2 percent of American farms are Black-owned because of long-standing structural racism in US farm policy. You can support Black farmers and advocate for food justice. Look for Black farmers selling food at your local farmers market or subscribe to a CSA.
These are just seven ideas for supporting Black communities with our dollars. There are many more actions we can all take to support Black communities nationwide, so be on the lookout in your local communities and online for opportunities to support Black-owned business and projects.