February is Black History Month. This year, we’re commemorating Black History by looking at the history of business and economics in Black freedom struggles, and by supporting Black-owned small businesses.
What does supporting Black-owned business have to do with Black History month? Everything.
Even though we don’t often think of it this way, so much of the fight for equity in America, and Black History in general is, at its core, a history of business. Compensation for labor has been at the core of Black liberation since the antebellum era (way before diversity was ever a buzzword). The Civil Rights Movement began with Black domestic workers—who could also be thought of as OG entrepreneurs—organizing the Montgomery bus boycott. And let’s not forget, the 1963 march on Washington was a March for Jobs and Freedom, and it couldn’t have happened without labor organizers like A.P. Randolph. Just before Dr. King was killed, he was working with sanitation workers in Memphis to organize a strike for better working conditions and pay; the second March on Washington, The Poor People’s Campaign, explicitly linked racial and economic justice. Black folks have been fighting for and invested in small businesses for decades.
It’s troubling, then, that over the past 30 years, the US has seen a sharp decline in independent Black-owned businesses, and that Black women in particular face so many obstacles getting their business ventures funded. And this isn’t just a problem for Black communities; it affects all of us. Like shopping local, shopping at Black-owned businesses (so many of them small businesses and independent businesses) means more of what you spend recirculates in the community and stimulates the economy. Everybody wins.
So, this Black History month, why not participate in the history of Black economic liberation? Here are ten small businesses, all Black-owned with online shops, to patronize this February—and every other month of the year, too.