For those who wonder how they can help during this tumultuous summer of violence and racial inequality, I understand. Many blacks feel helpless in their anger and frustration, unable to find ways to actively participate in the revolution. I understand that too. If you’re unable to find a protest or vigil in your city, what ways can you contribute to Black Lives Matter?
Sometimes we have to remember to “hit ’em where it hurts. In the pocket.” Don’t forget that Black Dollars Matter too. I’m not an idealistic Marxist, who is convinced that we can stop buying things altogether. I know that in this country, we’re addicted consumers. But if we’re stuck in a capitalist society, perhaps we should take the white supremacy part out of it.
The first thing you can do is #BankBlack. This is actually already starting to happen. Since Killer Mike’s challenge to the black community to change their banks, black-owned banking institutions have seen a huge spike in deposits.
Here’s a map of all the Black-owned banks in our country. The green dots highlight One United Bank (member FDIC), which allows anyone to set up an account from any state. This takes care of ATMs, online bill pay, and secure credit cards without having to make a personal visit. It’s time for a “bank-in.”
I found what I can confidently describe as the “Black Amazon.com”, in the website, We Buy Black. Here, you can find all kinds of products ranging from apparel to electronics to pet supplies, all black-own or produced. Also, Afrobella has compiled a list of independent black-owned businesses to patronize. This list started in 2015 and it’s still growing.
What about vacations? There are a growing number of black-owned Bed and Breakfasts popping up around the nation. Here’s a list of lovely B&Bs that are breaking through the hospitality color barrier.
Black women have long shared their frustrations regarding beauty supply stores and treatment they receive as patrons. These beauty supply stores are generally owned by Korean immigrants who sometimes don’t understand the community they’re serving. However, that is slowly changing. Since, 2004, the Black Owned Beauty Supply Association (BOBSA) has been keeping tabs on on black salons, barbershops and beauty supply locations in America. Check out their listings here.
We have to start somewhere. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called on the black community to boycott the bus line in Montgomery, Alabama, which worked to change legislation within a year. The protest started in 1955 and segregated bus-lines were ruled unconstitutional in 1956. While something like this might not sound feasible today, King also called urged us to invest in black banks. This is a small segment from the speech he made just one day before his assassination:
I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank-we want a ‘bank-in’ movement in Memphis. So go by the savings and loan association. I’m not asking you something we don’t do ourselves at SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We’re just telling you to follow what we’re doing. Put your money there. You have six or seven black insurance companies in Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an ‘insurance-in.’ Now these are some practical things we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. I ask you to follow through here.”
Consider what you buy and who it helps. You work hard to earn your dollar; who are you giving it back to? And do they have your best interests in mind? Frankly, I’m tired of rewarding bad behavior. I want to encourage black entrepreneurs and build the economic foundation that Dr. King spoke of. We can do that if we are vigilant with our money.