#BlackoutDay2020: What is it? Here’s how you can support

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Local leaders say supporting Black-owned businesses goes beyond just spending money

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Racial equity has been a global conversation in the past month since the deaths of black people like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor.

Now more action is being called to show solidarity with Black employers and the Black Lives Matter movement to create change.

Tuesday has been designated as #BlackoutDay2020, a day of economic solidarity with the Black community. The goal is to go the entire day only spending dollars at Black-owned establishments. The movement was created by activist Calvin Martyr. He’s spent the last two months promoting the campaign after posting a video that went viral calling action for #BlackoutDay2020.

Supporters of the movement believe one of the many impactful ways to dismantle institutional racism is supporting Black-owned businesses. Peoria City Councilwoman Denise Moore said keeping Black dollars in the Black community creates more opportunities for minorities.

“You probably know the Black dollar doesn’t circulate very much in the Black community, it’s gone within hours,” She said. Whereas in other communities, their dollars stay in the community for days and days and once you are able to circulate then you are able to build more wealth.”

Moore also said, nationally, Black people, spent more than $1 trillion on consumer goods, but it wasn’t towards Black businesses. In Peoria alone, Moore said Black-owned establishments only make up .5% of Peoria’s economy.

“From my observation, I would say there are maybe four African American retail businesses. Four, that’s not a lot in a city that has 100,011 people and 30 percent of your city is African American,” Moore said.

Tony Scroggins, the creator of the Peoria Black Business Directory said the community can help support Black businesses by mentoring. He said the biggest problem in the Black community when it comes to entrepreneurship is the lack of understanding, guidance, and support. He said more exposure, programs, and workshops are needed.

“We need to find people that will mentor us on how to start businesses. We need to instill in our children how to start businesses,” Scroggins said.

But it’s going to take more than a day to create change. Moore said it’s important for Black people to understand how difficult it is for small minority-owned businesses to keep their inventory up without a steady flow of customers.

“Black and Hispanic businesses are run on thin margins and are so tightly controlled as far as expenses are concerned,” she said. “That they really can not afford like a big box store to have 100 of something just sitting around on the off chance that you’ll come in. They don’t have that kind of money. So they have 10 on hand and maybe they sell out on all those 10 and you go see ‘It’s a Black business they don’t have it.’ Instead of thinking that, think ‘See maybe if I came in here more often then they would have more of those things in stock and they wouldn’t be out when I come in.”

But supporting a business goes beyond just spending money. She encourages those who have complaints or advice to reach out to that business so they can do more to create a welcoming environment for future customers. She said it’s easy to quickly “write-off” a small business.

Blackout Day isn’t just limited to Black people, Moore said everyone is encouraged to support a minority establishment. To find Black-owned shops to support, go to the Peoria black Business Directory or the Black Business Alliance Peoria Chapter.

If you want to start a business, but need assistance, BBA is a non-profit organization that offers mentoring and classes to increase future and existing entrepreneur’s market potential.

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