The History of Black Entrepreneurship
In the US and Canada, February is celebrated as Black History Month. This tradition has been officially followed since 1976 as a way to honor the major milestones as well as personalities that mark the African American diasporic history.
The dynamic socio-political atmosphere around the US, especially during the pandemic, has given rise to much deliberation about critical issues such as racial injustice and unemployment. The ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests garnered global support with people from various backgrounds-- celebrities and common people-- bringing about a conversation on social media.
Supporting Black Businesses
One way to achieve this would be by supporting Black companies. Black-owned businesses have had a hard time establishing themselves for generations. They have faced many difficulties accessing loans and capital for their businesses due to the deep-rooted racism prevalent in society.
White-owned businesses have gained a monopoly over the market with the help of their White privilege, thanks to the long-sustained racism across the world. This kind of subjugation in the marketplace holds true not just for Black businesses but also for businesses run by people belonging to the LGBTQI community or even the Dalits, as in the case of India.
Even if you switch to Black-owned businesses at a marginal level, it can prove to be an act of pledging your support to the Black community. You may have read about how Aurora James, the founder of Brother Vellies, implored people to allot 15 percent of their shelf space to products of Black businesses. That is roughly the population of Blacks in the US.
Before showing your solidarity to these companies, it is vital to educate yourself about the origins of Black entrepreneurship.
Origins of Black Companies
Following the Emancipation and abolition of slavery in 1833, small Black businesses originated around the Reconstruction Era (the 1860s). Black entrepreneurship saw its peak during the early twentieth century and has since been actively involved in the fields of insurance, banking, food, entertainment, and beauty. ‘The National Negro Business League’ played a huge role in supporting the rise of Black companies.
However, the Great Depression of the 1930s, followed by the Second World War, increasingly led to unemployment among the Blacks and many small businesses shut shop. Blacks began working for White-owned capitalist companies and switched to high-paying jobs at weapons factories.
The Civil Rights Movement and the subsequent years saw an increase in the federal funding of minority-owned businesses, which considerably boosted Black entrepreneurship. Black people like Oprah Winfrey and Magic Johnson became hugely successful “brands” and were much sought-after.
Despite the success of African American businesses, it needs to be noted that small Black companiesstill face struggles to find their establishments and run them securely. In fact, a report by The Washington Post in June 2020 says that the number of Black businesspersons fell by a whopping 40 percent and more during the pandemic. It is thus more important now than ever to support Black businesses and revive them.
5 Black-owned businesses to watch out for
This brand mainly targets men’s apparel and accessories, focusing on high-quality fashion. The best part? You get this high-quality fashion at great prices. Following their mantra, “Debonair doesn’t have to be expensive,” G+Co has an impressive collection of clothing and accessories ranging from ties and sweatshirts to even hats. There are clothes for women and kids too. Do check them out.
This Black business manufactures bags, backpacks, and accessories from recycled materials. One of their best attractions is the “Earth Bags,” a sleek collection of modern-styled bags made from materials like pineapple leaf fiber, plastic water bottles, sailboat sails, and even old museum banners. The products are one-of-a-kind and of course, eco-friendly is the new cool. This company has shown that style and sustainability can go hand-in-hand and has been widely lauded for its product quality.
Board games are a dying tradition in this era of technology. Many of us associate our childhood with fun board games. The founders of Board Game Brothas decided to do something about this nostalgia and developed their first board game called Rap Godz. They have developed another game called Hoop Godz and are already working on their next project Graffiti Knights. These games literally bring strategy and action to your tables and are bound to keep you hooked. They have also got their own merchandise on their website, so you can check those out too.
If you are looking for a beautiful card for your friend’s birthday or a candle for your bae but also don’t want to hurt the environment, this company has got your back. Aya Paper Co has cards for all occasions, eco-friendly vegan candles, artworks, journals, calendars, and much more to offer you. All their products are purely eco-friendly, so you can shop as much as you want, guilt-free. You can customize and order according to your wish too. You should check them out if you are in want of a great gift.
Popular culture and thinking have normalized the idea of ‘nude’ as the shade of White people’s skin tone. Nude Barre aims to dismantle this stereotype by introducing nude hosiery and undergarments for women of color. They have got undergarments for all skin tones and even help you find out what your exact skin color is. This brand is a win in many ways, and we totally recommend you check them out.
Finding alternatives to monopolizing capitalism is the best way to move forward if we need a world of equity. One purchase from your side can make all the difference for Black businesses. The systematically marginalized communities must find their place and their voice in the competitive capitalist market.