Buying Black, also known as an individual or concerted effort to support and buy exclusively from Black-owned businesses, is never out of season. But this holiday season, Black consumers (and their collective $1.2 trillion in spending power) across the country took it up a few notches.
One such movement is LetsBuyBlack365, which was launched at a press conference in Brooklyn, New York last Tuesday. Grassroots movement organizers from around the country converged and brought together a group of black-owned manufacturers, distributors, national suppliers, small business owners, concerned citizens, spiritual leaders, and local government officials, to discuss empowerment, buying decisions and a call for Black unity.
Held at the Brooklyn Christian Center, led by Reverend Dennis Dillon, the event took place on the 4th night of Kwanzaa: Ujamaa. The principle means cooperative economics and calls for Black people to “build and maintain our own stores, and businesses and to profit from them together.”
“This movement came out of a core group of organizers who had been doing some things in the community but felt more needed to be done. The question is: how do we as Black people achieve unity? We keep discussing the topic, but there has not been a lot of action towards doing things. We feel that we can start with individual action. I can choose how I spend my money each day. It has to start with me. Then we can discuss the collective action,” Nataki Kambon, spokesperson and Strategic Partnership Relationship Coordinator of LetsBuyBlack365, told TNJ.com.
Kambon shared details about the movement’s online network and introduced some of the nation’s local organizers from cities around the country before the panel discussion.
Alpha Office Supplies, a company founded three decades ago, has been regularly featured as one of Black Enterprise’s 100 top minority-owned and operated companies. President/CEO Chet Riddick passionately rallied Black entrepreneurs to join in the movement and shared his commitment to growing other business. “If our communities are to change economically, it is going to be up to the African American community and business leaders to lead the charge,” stated Riddick.
Kamose Muhammad represented one of the few Black-owned manufacturing and distribution companies in the country. As President/CEO of Freedom Paper Company, makers of the Freedom brand bathroom tissue and other household products, Muhammad expressed that Freedom is joining forces with LetsBuyBlack365. The company has committed to producing more jobs in the community and doing more outreach. To show solidarity, Freedom is also buying into the movement by giving a discount to anyone who enters the LBB365 coupon code when purchasing.
Dr. Mawiyah Kambon, a psychologist with national online counseling agency Onipa PSC, stressed the importance of Black consumers needing to reeducate themselves on the matters of economic empowerment and to redirect their spending habits in positive ways. “American consumers have become brain-washed by decades of advertising and marketing that does not encourage consumers to spend money with Black owned businesses,” she said.
And says Nataki Kambon, the timing of the event was key since the movement is built on Kwanzaa principles. “We held the press conference on Tuesday, December 29 which on the Kwanzaa calendar represents the Ujamaa principle for cooperative economics. It’s a day of the year when we are asked to reflect on what we have done to support our businesses and enterprises. It’s about profiting from them together. When we looked back, we realized that many of us had not done a lot on a massive scale,” she explains.
She adds, “So at the event, we discussed how we can make sure that when discussing Kwanzaa’s principle of cooperative economics at the end of 2016, we can celebrate the success we had in demonstrating that principle throughout that year. People don’t realize that you have to begin on January 1st. And then in December, you look back on the year and celebrate.”
Dwayne, an organizer from Baltimore, MD, shared this after the press conference and Kwanzaa events, “This movement is the necessary shift in black economics in America today. It is truly fulfilling and an honor to be a part of a movement that will be reviewed as one of the most historically impactful times in our history.”