Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a decentralized political and social movement. It advocates for non-violent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against black people.
This movement has been with us for many years and in many different forms, some probably unrecognizable. Even before the Civil War, people were confronting injustice in varying degrees and using whatever media platforms were available to them. No Human being appreciates injustice to anyone of any color. Times are changing and so, too, has viewpoints on injustice in all its forms.
With BLM now at the forefront of a global movement, we are all hearing the calls to support Black owned businesses. For us, supporting Black owned, and supporting small business is nothing new, but with the world at large now dawning on the importance of this aspect of racial injustice, we think it's important to address. As we all know, the Coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately impacted Black communities on every level. According to a report from the National Bureau of Economic Research, “the number of African-American business owners plummeted from 1.1 million in February 2020 to 640,000 in April,” — that translates to about 41% of Black-owned businesses in the U.S. going under in the wake of COVID-19.
By diverting your purchasing power to more Black-owned businesses, you’re not only helping to strengthen local Black economies — it can also contribute to shrinking the racial wealth gap, foster more job creation for Black people, and help to hold larger companies accountable in regard to diverse representation. But make no mistake, this only happens if Black-owned businesses are supported on a wider scale, not just by a few people. The perceived value of Black-owned businesses among investors and consumers is a huge hurdle. Too many don’t see merit in Black companies or Black ideas, even more so when it comes to products made by Black people for Black people. It’s viewed as a niche market, even though the Black population of America sits at almost 44 million according to the latest U.S. Census. One 2015 study concluded that white entrepreneurs already benefit from consumer perceptions that their ventures are legitimate — their ability to perform is not really questioned in the same way as Black entrepreneurs. And in 2018, the Small Business Association's Office of Advocacy reported that Black entrepreneurs are more likely to rely on credit cards and personal savings rather than outside investors to get their businesses funded.
For our part, we want to be visible in our community to inspire others and to lift up the voices that might not otherwise be heard. We are so fortunate to have our local community here in DC to collaborate with, to share the growing pains, successes and struggles. Each time we hire a supplier, style a photo shoot, or commit to charitable giving, we have a choice as to how to “spend” our company’s creative capital. By investing in the Black community, we make TW Tote about so much more than a bag, and for us that’s what it’s all about.