For as long as I can remember I’ve been taught to buy black. If there were a white mechanic in the neighborhood and a black mechanic 30 minutes away, who charged a bit more, in financially fit times, my father would have opted for the black mechanic. This behavior was drastically different than my maternal grandfather’s. A Jamaican living in Indianapolis, Indiana, my grandfather didn’t always view American blacks in the most positive light. In fact, his sentiments would lead you to believe he regarded them as inferior– and he might have. Though, in his defense, he’s grown over time.
But buying black was an important lesson I learned at the crib. One that stuck with me once I got a little money of my own…which was just three years ago really.
I can honestly say that I do as much, if not more shopping online than I do in actual stores. Everything is at your disposable on the internet in ways that the stores are drastically limited. And not only that, on the internet, you’re more than likely to find more black owned and operated businesses. There’s jewelry made by black women. (Earrings are my everything.) Books written by black women, businesses run by black women and unique, one of a kind clothes designed, made and shipped to your apartment or workplace by black women. It’s a beautiful thang. And I’m happy to support even if it means I end up spending a few dollars more than I would have if I bought said item from a white and or mainstream outlet.
Now, please know that my money is not long. With rent, student loans, regular utilities and other things that come up, I don’t have an extensive shopping budget. But as hard as I work, every month I have to buy myself at least one something nice.
In November it was a necklace from Peace Images Jewelry. In December, it was a Boxing Kitten dress. For Christmas I asked my sister to buy me an Ifenkili pillow and earlier this week I was looking at a $55 sweatshirt from Quelly Rue Designs. The sweatshirt featured a simple design on a plain, solid colored hoodie. I showed it to my sister telling her I was thinking about buying it. She agreed it was cute; but when she saw the price tag, her immediate reaction was, as it often is, “I can make that.” My sister, the artsy one, is probably right. But would she actually make it. Probably not. But that’s not the issue, I was contemplating buying the hoodie because the design, although simple, was still beautiful and the designer was a black woman. Historically, that’s been a good reason to spend $10, $20, even $50 dollars more than what I would pay somewhere else.
I support black women because one day I know I’ll need the same and I believe in karma. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. My father, who recently started up his own business selling and installing blinds and window fixtures works with all types of people. But recently he had a client, a black man, who said that he was buying from my father, though he probably could have gotten a lower quality product for less, because he was a black man and he was trying to support his business. As a black woman with a dream, that will ultimately require the financial support of others, it’s important that I regard these women and their products as I would hope they would one day do for me.
Do you go out of your way to patronize black businesses? Are you willing to pay more to buy their products?