Black Lives Matter. Period. This is not up for debate. This is a revolution that requires all anti-racist hands on deck. There are many ways to take action and stand up for equality. Systemic racism has deeply penetrated industries across the board with fashion and beauty being no exception. Ebonee Davis said: “Systemic racism began with slavery and has woven itself into the fabric of our culture, manifesting through police brutality, poverty, lack of education, and black incarceration. The most dangerous contributors? Advertising, beauty and fashion.” One of the ways we can fight racism and anti-Blackness is to use our wallets to exercise equality in our daily shopping habits. Buying from Black-owned businesses, getting into brand alignment, and shopping by our values is one way to fight injustice with every purchase transaction. How and where we spend our money is how we cast our vote for that business, brand, or product at the ballot box. We must fight for equality until racism is extinct. In this post, I’m sharing 5 steps for shopping Black-owned brands, changing your spending habits, and putting your money where your mouth is.
STEP 1: Take Inventory Of Your Shopping Habits.
The first step is awareness. Take inventory of where you shop, what brands you support, and align your spending habits with your values. Shopping by your core values, and standing against injustice means holding brands accountable with your wallet. No one can tell you where to shop, or how to spend your money. You have the power to vote with your wallet every single day. Start by purchasing products that align with your values, and stop buying from brands who don’t give a shit about integrity.
Task: Review your debit and credit card transactions for the past year.
Pull up your budget spreadsheet, or comb through your debit and credit card transactions online for the past year, and make a list of all the brands from your transactions for the past year. Then, research those brands and note how many are Black-owned. Also, note how many of those companies are owned by Black women. You can simply write BW or BM for Black woman or Black man, WW or WM for white woman or white male, POC for People of Color.
Step 2: Look For Black-Owned Brand Alternatives.
What did you find? If you’re white, it’s possible that you’ve mostly bought from brands and products owned by white people. Now, it’s time to challenge your spending habits, and vote for equality with your wallet. This means, shopping Black-owned businesses, and other brands that support Black Lives Matter, who are truly dedicated to action, making changes, and creating reform across the board, now and always.
Task: Look up product alternatives from Black-owned businesses that can substitute for some of the transactions you’ve made this past year.
Set a monthly goal to shop Black by purchasing 15% to 50% or more of your expenses from Black-owned businesses. Recently, Aurora James, Black Fashion Designer and Founder of the brand Brother Vellies, asked retailers to pledge to have 15% of Black-owned products and brands on their shelves. Read the full article by Nerisha Penrose, Assistant Editor at Elle magazine: Sephora Is First Brand To Join Aurora James’s 15% Pledge. If your current expenses represent less than 15% of Black-owned brands, set your goal at 15% for the next month. Then, set a higher goal. Maybe next month shop 25% Black. Then, thirty, forty, and fifty percent. Just keep going. This is a revolution. Not a one-time event.
STEP 3: Change Your Spending Habits.
Let’s say you’re an avid reader, and typically buy your books from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. One way you can shop Black is to buy from Black-owned bookstores. Most of these Black-owned bookstores have an online shop if you’re not local. Look at your habits. If you have a daily coffee habit, and get your groceries from Whole Foods, you can buy from Black-owned brands like BLK & BOLD. If you want to shop Black-owned female businesses, then check out Boss Blend Coffee.
Task: Comb through your spending habits, and buy Black-owned brand alternatives for your regular purchases.
If sipping a Matcha Latte is your daily AM beverage, then GOLDE is good Black brand alternative. You can find them at Sephora, or buy from local Black-owned stores like Inside Outer Beauty Market, an all-natural, inclusive marketplace that sells other Black-owned brands and multi-cultural skin care, bath and body products, etc. Continue to Shop Black by looking at your daily habits, and making brand substitutes. Do you add vegan protein powder to your breakfast smoothie? Try organic, VeganSmart protein powders. Do you indulge in gluten-free cookies and frequently shop at Target? Try Parktake Foods gluten-free cookies. Do you buy plant-based pads, tampons, or use a menstrual cup for your period every month? Buy feminine care products from The Honey Pot Co. Wear makeup? Shop Fenty Beauty. Lord only knows how much money I’ve happily given to that wonderful, inclusive brand. Do you have a glass of wine with dinner every Friday night in? Buy Black-owned bottles of wine from McBride Sisters Collection. There are so many talented, amazing Black artisans out there. Check them out. Shop Black brands.
STEP 4: Shop By Values, Not By Convenience.
Now is the time for radical change. We have moved past comfort zones and matters of convenience. We can make a difference in every day conversations, transactions, spending habits. Like any new habit, it’s going to require consistent effort and discipline to shop by your values, instead of buying what’s convenient.
Task: Do your research ahead of time. Find Black-owned products at the stores you shop frequently, and commit to shopping at least 15% of your expenses from Black-owned brands.
This goes beyond products and brands. This gets extended to everything you buy, including services. For example, can you hire a Black tax lady with her own business, instead of dropping your taxes off at H&R block? Can you go to a Black-owned restaurant instead of going to your usual spot? This is how we stand up for equality. This is how we even the playing field. Get yourself a new pair of Black-owned sneakers, because this is a marathon, not a sprint.
STEP 5: Track Your Progress And Follow Through.
You’ve combed through your expenses, looked for Black-owned brand alternatives, changed your spending habits, started shopping by your values, and standing up for equality with your wallet. Now, it’s time to track your progress. How are you meeting your monthly 15% goal? One way to track your progress is in your monthly budget spreadsheet. As you enter each itemized expense, date purchased, cost, etc. simply bold all items for purchases made from Black-owned business.
Task: Bold all Black-owned itemized expenses. Divide the total number of Black-owned expenses into the total number of expenses, and that’s your total percentage of Black-owned businesses you supported that month.
Track this weekly, so you know where you stand throughout the month. If your goal is to shop 15% of Black-owned brands each month, and you hit 25% consistently, increase your goal to 30% or 40%. It’s a simple, easy way to keep track of how you’re doing, and hold yourself accountable. Equality is 50/50. When you create a spending plan each month, plan for equality.
Why We Shop Black Across The Board, Not Just In Fashion.
We need to take action that’s sustainable and long-term. Shopping Black-owned businesses needs to be a regular shopping habit for it to create sustainable, economic change in the long-run. Like with any lasting lifestyle transformation, our daily habits either promote or prevent change. How you buy groceries is how you buy clothes. How you shop for one thing is how you shop for everything. If we protest with our wallets, and only invest in brands and products that align with our values; then, we stand for true equality, and create irrefutable change in fashion, beauty, and every other industry that we financially support.
Task: Listen to Ebonee Davis’s Ted Talk, and look for Black representation, recognition, and celebration when shopping fashion brands.
Let’s join Aurora James’s 15% pledge and shop Black-owned brands and products to become a part of that change. Yesterday, I tuned into Bozoma Saint John’s #ShareTheMicNow campaign on Instagram where 50 Black women took over the Instagram accounts of 50 white women. I listened to Black women sharing their stories. Racism goes so much deeper than we think. We need to even the playing field once and for all.
“Anti-blackness is built into the ethos of this country. There’s something wrong with that and we need to deconstruct it. I think, specifically, in America, there’s such a deep history that is not often acknowledged, but instead swept under the rug because it makes white people uncomfortable. The reason there are black people in this country is directly because we were brought here against our will, as a disposable commodity. Slavery socialized white people to perceive our value as less than their own. When you think about the black body in America and the timeline of our existence here, you realize that it’s only been about 100 years that our humanity is vaguely recognized. Our history in America is riddled with violence. So, the simple idea of compensating us in the same way our white counterpart is compensated, in fashion or in any industry — that’s a little bit of a stretch. The context of the conversation should be one of social reform where black people get to experience true liberation in the exact way the white American gets to experience their freedom. Our time is now.” —Ethan Miller, agent, IMG Models NYFrom Lindsay Peoples Wagner article on The Cut: “Everywhere and Nowhere:
What it’s really like to be black and work in fashion.”
What To Do Next.
Shop Black. Complete steps 1-5. Hit your monthly goals. Vote with your wallet. Keep going to create sustainable, long-lasting change until we live in a world where racism is extinct. In the words of Christina M. Rice, “Educate yourself. Let your Black friends have the floor. Speak up. Act. Show up for the Black community leading with your heart. For us, we felt George Floyd’s murder. We didn’t just view it. We need you to FEEL it.” Watch Kimberly Latrice Jones’s IG Live: “How Can We Win” filmed by David Jones Media, and feel the economic effects of racism. Watch it all the way to the end when she says: “America is lucky that what Black people are looking for is equality and not revenge”.
UPDATE: Sexuality Stylist has officially taken Aurora James’ 15 Percent Pledge on July 4, 2020.
We are committed to growing the share of Black-owned businesses by shopping at least 15% of Black-Owned brands each month. We took stock of our inventory and blog posts, and in June 2020 published this blog post to share how we were going to execute our plan to Shop Black-Owned brands and fight for economic equality at the Sexuality Stylist blog. Below are the 3 steps we have taken to join the Fifteen Percent Pledge as outlined at https://www.15percentpledge.org/ :
STEP 1: Take Stock of the percentage of shelf-space and contracts given to Black-owned businesses and suppliers at present.
STEP 2: Take Ownership of your findings, thoroughly interrogating how existing blind spots and biases within your company and society at large have led to the disparities—and what concrete steps you can take to address them. Publish your findings internally and externally, and use them to inform a brand new vision for “business as usual.”
STEP 3: Take Action Define and publish a plan for growing the share of Black businesses you empower to at least 15%, alongside a concrete strategy by which you plan to stay accountable to and transparent around your commitment. Execute your plan.