Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and started by musician and member of the So Solid Crew, Swiss, Black Pound Day was launched on 27 June 2020 to celebrate the black community on an emotional and financial level, not just one day per year but on a monthly basis to encourage consumers to direct their shopping habits towards local and online black-owned businesses. Black Pound Dat is celebrated on every first Saturday of each month.
The campaign’s Instagram account states that “Black Pound Day is a real solution-based, community-empowering campaign and motivating endeavour that will leave a better infrastructure for the next generation to walk into.” Swiss aims for a solution-based community and said it would “gain greater knowledge to be able to access and invest in black business. The vision of Black Pound Day is to empower the community to create a new economy which will, in turn, underpin our long-term financial growth and infrastructure.”
Simply support black-owned businesses. This is not a moment, this is a movement. A movement that is staying put. Black Pound Day seeks to shine a light on the brilliant stuff that the black community is and always has been doing, and we’re here for it. The larger goal is to not simply buy or talk about these vendors once a month, but for them to become businesses that we incorporate within our daily lives and that we frequently tell others about.
Check out the it’s Black-owned directory, it lists hundreds of businesses to support, that’s a good place to start. But this is just a few of an ever-growing list of businesses that we love too. If you’re in need of a reusable mask, check IGBONY. Soothe the summer sunburn with Liha’s beautiful lotions and potions, or surround yourself with intricately woven baskets from LA Basketry. If you’re feeling extra creative they supply kits and teach you to make your own! Another thing you can do is to follow social media accounts that will keep you up to date with product launches or events, one of them being Jamii, which is a marketplace and discount card for black British brands.
There’s also a Black Women’s directory launching soon, which will soon be providing easy access to black women-owned businesses and services. If you’re reading a little more these days, New Beacon Books was founded in 1966 by the late John La Rose, as the first black publisher and international book distributor in the UK focusing on selling works written by black British authors, or from African, Asian and Caribbean descent. The physical shop is still closed due to COVID-19 but be sure to check out their online shop.
As the global fight against racial injustice gains steam, meaningful change is beginning to materialise. From mayors pledging to defund police forces and racial justice organisations receiving an outpouring of support to a sharp rise in public discussions around issues of systemic racism—evidence of progress trails behind the swelling wave of protest and outrage. It is important to build on this historic momentum and keep the foot on the gas.
What can you do to support the movement for black rights and racial justice?
Taking to the streets to demonstrate remains one of the most effective ways to protest injustice and demand immediate change. Check the Black Lives Matter website, local community websites and social media for information about protests taking place in your area. If your circumstances don’t allow you to march in the streets, you may want to inquire about virtual protests happening, like the one recently arranged by Black Lives Matter London.
Protesters marching in the streets are in need of various supplies, including water, masks, food, and more. Visit the webpage of a protest happening near you to learn about its designated supply drop-off locations, or contact protest organisers for information on how to help.
As a growing number of protesters are being arrested by police forces, bail money is urgently needed for people who cannot afford to purchase their freedom. This Google Doc contains a list of bailout and legal funds categorised by city and state.
Systemic racism has robbed black communities of funds and resources and stilted progress among its residents. Contributing to initiatives designed to empower black communities is a crucial step in rectifying the ravages of centuries of racial discrimination. Black Visions Collective, National Bailout and Campaign Zero are three organisations that work in varying ways to achieve long term improvement for black communities, end their oppression and promote their rights and safety. You may want to research similar organisations operating in your city or state.
Make it a point to support black-owned businesses, restaurants and shops in your area. You should also research which companies are complicit in perpetuating systemic racism and refrain from supporting them—L’Oréal, Reformation and Zimmerman, I’m looking at you.
Immigrants of colour are disproportionately targeted, terrorised, and abused by the government—at the border, in detention facilities, and in black and brown communities repeatedly raided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). At the invitation of the NYPD, ICE agents have been infiltrating Black Lives Matter protests in New York City, and have already detained one immigrant. Research and donate to organisations working to protect and advocate on behalf of immigrants of colour.
Queer people of colour are at an increased risk of experiencing violence, exclusion, police brutality and oppression. They are also more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health issues as a result of what is commonly referred to as ‘compounded minority stress’—being both queer and black or brown. The LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund and the Black Trans Femmes in the Arts Collective are two out of numerous organisations working to protect and uplift black queer people in the US. If you’re based in the UK, you may want to check out UK Black Pride, IMAAN and NAZ Project.
While the focus tends to revolve around national politics—it is local authorities that are often hotbeds of racial injustice. Inquire about your mayor, comptroller, chief of police, and district attorney, demand accountability for their actions, and be sure to vote in local elections and get involved in your community.
Across the US, and around the world, more and more people are demanding to defund the police and invest their budget in community projects and infrastructure and locally-run emergency-response teams. Minneapolis may be the first US city to completely disband its police force, and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti had already pledged to slash the city’s police budget and invest the money in communities of colour. Join the growing demand to defund the police by supporting #8toAbolition, the Movement for Black Lives or other NGOs operating in your city or county.
Challenge yourself with daily and rigorous reflections on how the concept of Whiteness may affect your life; in what ways does it limit or impact your actions, your perceptions, your opinions, your circle of friends? Policies are important milestones in the fight against systemic racism, but they alone cannot herald real, long-lasting change on societal and institutional scales. Slavery had been abolished, Jim Crow laws had been eradicated, and yet here we are still battling the plague of racism. Ultimately, racial justice could only be achieved when we fundamentally change the ways we see ourselves and obliterate the institution and concept of Whiteness.