Supporting Black Owned Businesses.
One aspect of celebrating Black culture is supporting Black-owned businesses. While I could write a whole other post about supporting minority businesses in general, I really want to highlight and focus on Black-owned businesses. Let’s start off by eliminating the word support and instead think about the idea of investing in Black-owned businesses. Support, by definition, is to “give assistance to, especially financially; enable to function or act”. Invest, on the other hand, means to “devote (one's time, effort, or energy) to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result”. But why invest in Black-owned businesses? According to a report conducted by CNBC, “There are 30.2 million small businesses in the U.S. But only a fraction of them survive. Twenty percent of small businesses fail by the first year, 30% by the second, 50% by the fifth, and by the 10th year, a staggering 70% of businesses have shut off their lights. For minorities, the numbers can be even more daunting. Eight out of 10 Black-owned businesses fail within the first 18 months.” If we as a church desire to celebrate and champion Black culture, then let's do what we can to make sure these businesses stick around and influence their neighborhoods.
Investing in a business is honestly very easy, but it does take dedication. A very simple way to start is by sharing about the business on social media, chances are if you are reading this blog post you have a social media account and a phone capable of taking photos. Share where the business is, why you like it, what product excites you the most etc.
Commit, make it a goal to buy from that establishment once a week for 6 months to a year (clearly, this goal might not be feasible for all products depending on price, but we can still consciously make an effort to choose those businesses when we are in need of those things). I can envision people like Dave Ramsey looking at me in disagreement, however there is a purpose that far exceeds a financial investment. By consistently buying from a business, you are investing in the employees and the ownership. I believe Karl Vaters said it best, “We need to invest in people, not because they might do something great some day, but because they’re made in God’s image, and that alone is worth investing in.”
Not only is it important to buy from a business, but what distinguishes supporting and investing is the idea of generosity. Tipping, while seen as a taboo topic to discuss, plays a huge role in investing in Black-owned business. When appropriate, tip generously, and I mean generously. Consider tipping anywhere between 50%-100%. When you pay the full price for something, it is the mutual agreement and exchange of services for money. When you're tipping goes past that exchange, it becomes a gesture of appreciation towards someone and a validation that you believe in them. After all, if the foundation of your beliefs and faith are that God generously loved you, then it is important to reflect the generosity you’ve been given. God quickly saw that there could not be any form of mutual exchange between us and Him, so he graciously paid for that exchange with the life of his Son. He even more generously went above that transaction and saw us in Christ Jesus, validated us, so now we are co-heirs with Jesus.Why then, with that being our foundation, would we not model it in such a simple and minuscule way?
When I was in college I worked at a local coffee shop in Ames and interacted with hundreds of people in a day. Engaging in small talk in a field where I was constantly multi tasking was what I did, what we all did without thinking. It was people who tipped generously, that we noticed. I would naturally engage in longer, more intentional conversations with them and before I knew it, they just became friends, friends that I still keep up with. No, they didn't buy my affection, but what they did was show me that they appreciated me with a small gesture that naturally allowed me to let down my guard. This is ultimately what the goal is. Yes, yes, yes invest financially; tell your friends, family, grandmas, aunties, whomever. Bring money in, but don't let it stop at just supporting them; invest in that person. You can’t bring money with you to heaven, but you can bring people. My hands are completely empty when I show you my physical return on investment, but my heart is full from the relationships I have encountered over the years.
I would love to give you a written list of Black-owned businesses to invest in; however, shopblackdsm.com has made it even easier than that! Head to that website and you can type what you're looking for and they give you a list of references for those services. It is literally Black Google! Go invest in your neighbors.