Owners, artists, and designers of color are not just promoting products, brands, and services they are promoting a lifestyle that reflects whom we are by providing what we need. Take a moment think on this; the mainstream market doesn’t acknowledge our worth or contributions until it is profitable for non-POC. Think back on the rhetoric, buzzwords, and styles that created in our communities that managed to find their way into the mainstream which in turn created profit for big companies and crippled our smaller ones. We are the trendsetters, but we get none of the credit.
Outsiders in the form of the colonizers come into our communities see something they like, take pieces of what they think is “cool”; synthesize our ideas; repackage them; jack up the prices; then low ball prices rendering a portion of our culture meaningless while making a profit that does 10 times more damage to our local businesses and communities. Because of this, I work that much hard to encourage people to support businesses owned by people of color locally and across the nation.
One of the best ways to give back to our communities is to buy from within them. Not only do you get to show your support you are also ensuring that our dollars are being reinvested back into our communities. Our local minority-owned businesses do more than provide us with products and services. They help reinforce our cultural norms, mores, values, and ways of knowing. These businesses/companies/brands are promoting the preservation of our communities as well as our ability to survive in an economic structure that was created to lock us out financially.
It’s crucial that we protect the community of color dollar, market, and preserve our culture. When we don’t protect or take ownership cultural appropriation starts breeding like rapid fire and what once was a meaningful part of our communities turns into the devaluation of who we are and our ways of knowing. There was a time when we relied on ourselves and our communities thrived. We have to get back to that. We have to take back our money, our communities, our ways of knowing, and our cultures. That process begins by supporting and purchasing in our communities.