Monday’s post gave some resources for investing your self-directed retirement funds in your community. Being mindful of where you spend your consumer dollars is another, more common, and easier way to support your community and align your money with your values.
Covid-19 was the prompt that first redirected my attention to supporting local economies, and even before the police murder of George Floyd sparked a human rights war (in the words of Nenna Joiner, founder of Feelmore Adult in Oakland and Berkeley), the effects on small businesses were racially inflected.
I know when these types of things happen, it tends to hit us, black people, the hardest, but it also hits our black-owned businesses the hardest, because we don’t have access to as many funding opportunities as other businesses do. So this is the time to really step up and support your small black-owned businesses.
—Tomara Watkins, founder of Loza Tam
Here are some resources to help you target your consumer dollars to Black communities and Black-owned businesses.
Choosing where to bank means choosing who gets to hold, and use, your money while you are not using it. Banking can be a powerful complement to both consumption and investment. Your checking or savings account at Wells Fargo has funded private prisons and immigrant detention centers and enabled residential redlining and racially based predatory lending. Park your money with an institution that serves your community instead.
Bookshop.org is an Amazon competitor in book distribution and affiliate sales. Basically, they allow any local bookshop to host a fully stocked online shop, and they pay part of the proceeds back to the book store. On this blog, I have chosen not to participate in the affiliate program but to direct your dollars to Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books instead.
Bookshop.org sells physical, ebook, and audiobook editions. Ebooks are through My Must Reads, and audiobooks through Libro.fm. I was new to My Must Reads, and it required a new password and a new mobile app, but after that it’s seamless.
To shop locally, check out Travel Noire’s 50 in 50: Black-Owned Bookstores Across America.
If you need inspiration for what to read, Uncle Bobbie’s home page features reading lists on Policing and Mass Incarceration; How to Be an Ally; and Race, Protests, and Activism. Or check out Layla F Saad‘s five-book reading list (click through for details):
- When They Call You a Terrorist by Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors and asha bandele
- Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- Road Map for Revolutionaries by Elisa Camahort Page, Carolyn Gerin, and Jamia Wilson
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad
- I recently featured Du Nord Craft Spirits in Minneapolis for their fundraising to help other local, POC-owned businesses rebuild.
- Instagram’s Rehabilitated Wine Snob has recently shared several lists of Black-owned wineries and other drinks professionals.
Regardless of your race, if your hair is curly, you’ll benefit by consulting the wisdom of the natural hair community.
- Grace Eleyae, Loza Tam, and Phoebe Luna for satin caps, turbans, headbands, scrunchies, scarves, and pillowcases
- the Puff Cuff to restrain your ponytail, bun, or puffs without crushing their curl
- and the Puff Cuff’s list of curly care companies that are actually Black-owned
Not targeted consumption, exactly, individual reparations allow you to direct your disposable income to Black people with specific needs. I have seen, and contributed to, a lot of direct giving exchanges through PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App in the last few weeks. Here are two sites that make the process a little more formalized and specific.
- DJ Freedem‘s Underground Plant Trade facilitates reparations in the form of locally exchanged plants.
- Soul Fire Farm in Petersburg, NY hosts a Reparations Map connecting the needs of Black and Indigenous farmers with people who can fulfill them.
Sex Toys and Supplies
The aforementioned Feelmore Adult ships across the US and to Canada.
- Noirbnb is an AirBnB alternative that is committed to providing “safe and stress-free travel for the African Diaspora.”
- Travel Noire regularly features Black-owned businesses.
I’ll admit that I still default to Amazon or Target more than I would like. I’m the kind of online shopper who is usually looking for something specific that I’d prefer to have delivered. I’m not much of an online browser. If you are though:
- the Buy Black Movement Store
- Etsy’s highlighted Black-owned shops
- Official Black Wall Street’s Black-owned business directory (searchable by location)
- We Buy Black
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