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Why I (Still) Buy Black | June 2, 2020

A reflection on Black lives and buying Black

When I posted on social media last week, I hoped that I wouldn’t have to say anything else on the subject ever. I thought that there would be, at least, a couple months to heal before another trauma arose, another murder took place, another life was taken. Again, I struggled to find words and identify emotions, but I felt it was important to share this with you.

“On 11/11/14…Law Students displayed 25 of these memorials in remembrance of Black lives. The action was a direct response to a very privileged statement from the Law School Dean urging them to “trust the process”. On the next day, 22 of the memorials were defaced and destroyed on OUR campus by students/faculty who were “offended” by their presence…” Excerpt from the letter accompanying the images posted at my school after Michael Brown was murdered.

My decision to make a more conscious effort to buy from Black-owned businesses came in the months after Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson. I watched as the university I attended made no effort to acknowledge, understand, or address the pain that many of its students were feeling, the impact of the flawed system on the community in which it sat, and the privilege it exuded from the safety of its campus. I was frustrated and exhausted from repeatedly explaining why the conversations were necessary before ever getting to the conversations themselves. I was disappointed that students and faculty alike were content to operate as though nothing significant had happened because, for them, nothing had. But I had to do something.

I started with my academic work, but wanted to ensure that there was an impact outside of the confines of the university. I was moved by a call to action to boycott Black Friday or only support Black businesses instead, and I felt that it was something I could do.

jamie gray
Houston, 2018

Over the last seven years, I have become more intentional in my shopping in almost every arena, always looking first for a Black company that makes or sells or provides what I’m looking for. This practice has shown me not only the creativity and variety among Black people and our businesses, but the tenacity, resilience, and persistence it takes to consistently fight the challenges to open, survive, and grow.

Now I find myself in a similar situation as we continue to see and hear accounts of Black people murdered by police and private citizens without the accountability of immediate arrests, trials, convictions, and appropriate sentencing.

I am tired. I am hurting. I am grieving. I am angry. I am frustrated. I am scared. I am confused. I am hopeless. I am exhausted.

jamie gray black girl buying
Black Lawyers Matter. Black Lives Matter. Photo by Titilayo Joy Funso

And despite this, I know that I must carry on. I will continue to connect Black businesses and consumers because I still believe that where we spend our money speaks volumes about who and what we value. I will continue to share my experiences buying Black because I still believe, maybe now more than ever, that people want to support Black-owned businesses and need help finding them. That is why Black Girl Buying was started and that is why it will continue.

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