Black businesses facing racism? Put your green on black.
Black businesses have suffered terribly during the coronavirus pandemic. When the shutdowns began, barbershops and beauty salons, businesses that double as centers of black culture—were closed as nonessential.
Black restaurants were shuttered almost from the start. Book stores and coffee shops were shut down and told they weren’t needed.
Then, as the lockdown dragged on, Black businesses were the last to get government help, if they got help at all. Because of that, many of those businesses will never reopen. And now, to add insult to injury, the Black businesses that are left are getting racist threats.
Can you imagine surviving a shutdown because of a deadly virus, surviving violent protests because of deadly policing, surviving government programs that were never meant to help you, only to reopen and get racist threats?
That’s what happened to Jeannine Cook, a Fishtown Bookshop owner who got racist emails containing threats and harassment. Hers is one of several Black owned businesses to receive those kinds of messages. But because of what she’s seen in recent months with police killing Breonna Taylor, killing George Floyd, and protecting white vigilantes in the neighborhood around her business, she doesn’t want to call them for help.
I hate that that’s her reality, but I can’t blame her.
I do know this, though. Every Black business is essential. Every Black dollar counts. And every Black person must stand up and help our businesses survive this moment. So, go to a Black barber or beauty salon. Go to a Black restaurant or coffee shop. Go to a Black bookstore and buy something. We have to protect our Black businesses from those who would harm them. And the best way to do that is to put your green … on black.