Targeted consumption: Buy Black

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.

Banking

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.

Books

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):

Drink

Screen shot of the Rehabilitated Wine Snob's Instagram repost of a list of Black-owned wineries compiled by Vinepair

Hair Care

Regardless of your race, if your hair is curly, you’ll benefit by consulting the wisdom of the natural hair community.

In a black-and-white photo, Walter White, the white executive secretary of the NAACP, stands in front of a grocery window holding a sign calling for boycott of stores with discriminatory hiring practices, as part of the New Negro Alliance's 1933-1943 campaign in Washington, DC. The photographer is unknown. The image is courtesy of The Crisis.
Buying Black is for allies, too. Walter White, executive secretary of the NAACP, stands in front of a Safeway window in 1941 holding a sign calling for boycott of stores with discriminatory hiring practices. This was part of the New Negro Alliance’s 1933-1943 campaign in Washington, DC. The photographer is unknown. The image is courtesy of The Crisis.

Reparations

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.

Sex Toys and Supplies

The aforementioned Feelmore Adult ships across the US and to Canada.

Travel

Cover of the book The Negro Motorist Green-Book (1940 edition, scanned at NY Public Library by Victor Hugo Green). This guide book appeared yearly between 1936 and 1966. It informed Black travelers of establishments that would serve them and helped Black travelers navigate
Cover of the book The Negro Motorist Green-Book (1940 edition, scanned at NY Public Library by Victor Hugo Green). This guide book appeared yearly between 1936 and 1966. It informed Black travelers of establishments that would serve them and helped Black travelers navigate “sundown towns” which Black people had to leave by sunset.
  • 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.

Screen capture of Travel Noire's Black-owned Businesses feature page.

Everything Else

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:

And if you must use Amazon, use Amazon Smile to direct a portion of your purchase price to one of the non-profits recommended by Reclaim the Block Minneapolis.


Illustration of an analog numeric typewriter, superimposed on a paper chart of printed numbers.

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