Blackout Week shows support for Black-owned businesses: “For things to change, there has to be black wealth”

Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 10:25 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A national social media movement is highlighting Black-owned businesses.

The first week of July is known as National Blackout Week, which encourages people to “buy Black only.” Advocates say it’s a short time to raise awareness for the long-term support that’s needed in the Black community.

On the first day, the movement called for people to open an account at a Black-owned bank. On Thursday, the second day, people were asked to “post a selfie” after buying from a Black-owned business, like David’s Jamaican Cuisine.

For nineteen years, owner David Blake and his wife Pauline have worked to bring the joy of the island to their Monona restaurant.

“95 percent of my customers are white folks,” he said. “Everybody is welcome. No matter who you are. Black, brown, purple yellow. I’m going to treat you the same way,” Blake says.

The Madison Black Chamber of Commerce wants to see more Black-owned brick and mortars like the Blakes'.

“We don’t have generational wealth that we can learn from. We learn from each other. I believe Madison has a big problem with how it treats its Black-owned businesses,” Martin Lackey, a board member with the chamber, said.

He added that consumers shopping conscientiously at Black-owned operations are a show of support of the Black Lives Matter movement: “To me it’s just as important, if not more important.”

“In order for things to change, we have to have Black wealth,” Lackey continued. “There has to be redistribution of wealth. Black folks need to learn how to have wealth and how to keep wealth.”

Blake says his wealth always goes back to his community, citing how he provides food to police officers and local youth.

“You support me, you’re helping your whole community,” he said.

National Blackout Week culminates with Blackout Day on July 7. The specific calls on this day are to shut off water, gas, social media and television.

“To me Blackout day is to learn to support each other,” Lackey explained. “We have over $1.2 trillion worth of buying power in the Black community. If we decide to stop supporting people who keep us oppressed, we can change the world.”

A full list of black-owned businesses can be found here, via the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce.

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