Almost two months after the start Black Lives Matter events, many activists are now calling on their supporters to focus their attention on economic inequality and promote black businesses.

Their energies will merge on July 7, aka Blackout Day 2020– when Blacks and other people of color (as well as their allies) are encouraged to avoid shopping online or in person. If you have to buy something, it should be from a black owned business.

Blackout days have already been introduced, but this year’s campaign has special power. Originally designed by musician Calvin Martyr and the Blackout Coalition, it has a dual purpose, says Martyr: to alert American businesses and to bring attention (and money) to business owners, designers and artists. black.

Blackout Coalition social media describes it as the first step in an ongoing effort “to rebuild the black dollar.” The timing couldn’t be more critical: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the economy, black Americans are disproportionately affected.

While the nationwide unemployment rate is 13.3%, among black Americans it is 16.8%, the highest in more than a decade. Only 5% of black-owned businesses were eligible for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, according to the Center for Responsible Lending. Unsurprisingly, 40% of black businesses are not expected survive the pandemic.

So, while the Blackout movement targets July 7, “you shouldn’t see this as a one-day event,” Martyr says. “Immerse yourself in the black community with intention,” he adds. “Do you say,” On Saturday I go shopping at a black company or eat in a restaurant owned by blacks.

Or shop for designer and artisanal goods such as rugs and ceramics created by black artisans like Malene Barnett.

Barnett is the founder of the Black Artists + Designers Guild (BADG), which she created in 2018 after attending What’s New What’s Next, an annual gathering for leaders of the interior design industry in New York City.

“There were no black designers exhibiting or panelists,” Barnett recalls. “So I took advantage of social media and called them. When the press picked up the story, Barnett added, the design industry’s response was, “Well, we don’t know where to look!” ”

“I never wanted to hear ‘I don’t know where to look’ ever again, so I started the guild.” It now includes more than 200 interior designers, artists, artisans, architects and other creatives, many of whom have been in business for decades.

A BADG member, architect and interior designer from Brooklyn Leyden lewis, began his practice over 20 years ago.


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