Businesses went through a lot of change last year. For a lot of them, especially those Black-owned, the pandemic hit them hard.
In some ways, the social unrest in the streets helped, with more people wanting to support since one of the things the protesters were asking for in the name of equality was more support for Black-owned businesses. The community listened, but it seems only for a while.
“For a while, people that you would never know said, ‘oh yeah go support Black restaurants,’ but that only lasted a couple of weeks but it’s appreciated,” said Justin Springer, who owns a couple of businesses in a town like Rhythm ‘n Wraps.
He said the change in support isn’t just coming from customers.
“You don’t really see the companies saying, ‘OK we are going to give you the grant to help you out,’” Springer said. “It’s kind of like you’re on your own.”
“It was super staggering for us because we feel like for five and a half years we were banging on the table saying Black people deserve a seat at the table, we need to do this one for Black people, we need this for my businesses, but it wasn’t until after the George Floyd murder people finally started listening,” said Heather White, who owns Trillfit, a boutique fitness studio.
“We have been talking about this for years. We were discounted, no one supported us.”
She agrees business is not the same today as it was when there were daily protests in the streets.
“Ayanna Pressley talked about us publicly, we’re on Good Morning America,” White said. “We got a lot of this national acclaim for all of the hard work we had done, which was wonderful and a vindication. It felt so good. It was wonderful to have that validation if you were doing something that was important and good and seen for our community, but, you know, now here we are a year later from George Floyd, and what has changed?”
Business owners said it wasn’t all bad. The increased awareness has helped some owners find ways to expand. “What really helped this is the number of people knowing that we were a Black restaurant or the outreach of community who wanted to support more,” Springer said.
Business owners said one good thing that happened is more awareness, especially in getting the Black community to circulate their dollars within their own community more often.
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