How You Can Support Black Owned Businesses in Pittsburgh?

Learn how you can contribute to Black owned businesses in your community for little to no cost.

people raising their glasses

In the midst of a global pandemic, America’s focus switched from one crisis to another. With the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in May and June of 2020, Black Americans made yet another cry for justice-- but this time, it rang louder than ever.  

All over the world, people of all races, nationalities, and religions joined hands to protest the extreme violence American police have countlessly inflicted on Black Americans and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Persons of Color). In many places, these protesters have been met with even more violence, only further bringing into question the true purpose of police and the extreme amount of funding many police forces receive from the government. 

The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have seemingly been the very last straw for Black Americans; racial injustices and systematic racism is finally under the spotlight nationwide. Now, leading the conversation is the Black Lives Matter Movement. After the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of the police officer that murdered him in 2013, three Black women started the movement to protest police brutality and racially charged violence towards Black Americans. Since 2013, BLM has been advocating and protesting against racial discrimination.

As Americans and others around the world are finally paying attention to the systematic racism that is embedded in our society, many are looking for ways to help Black Americans gain the equality and recognition they deserve. While so much must be changed in order to start making a dent in the injustices, inequality, and misrepresentation of Black Americans and BIPOC, supporting Black owned businesses is one small way you can contribute. And here is how. 

Buy from Black Owned Businesses

screenshot of Instagram page with Black owned Pittsburgh businesses
This image is from the Instagram of @blackowned.pgh where all different kinds of Pittsburgh Black owned businesses are advertised.

This is the easiest way to support the Black community-- by investing in their services and products to help fund and uplift their communities. 

Systematic racism is essentially how racism is built into our legal and institutional systems including housing, education, healthcare, politics, employment, and of course the justice system. Basically, even if there wasn’t a single racist human being left on earth, the systems we have in place would still cause disparities in success between white Americans and Black Americans. 

In America, Black Americans are not granted equivalent opportunities are their white counterparts, specifically when it comes to economic success and career opportunities. While Black businesses are innovative, strong, and successful, extra economic backing will only allow them to further thrive. Purchasing from Black owned businesses additionally highlights the intelligence and creativity of Black creators. According to the Business Insider, there are only three remaining Fortune 500 CEOs that are Black-- and we need that number to increase! 

Purchasing from Black owned businesses will hopefully increase the diversity of Fortune 500 CEOs and popular business leaders. Helping black owned businesses thrive will additionally provide Black American children with successful role models who they can look up to, relate to, and strive to be like. We need to show Black children that it is indeed possible to succeed in business ventures, regardless of the barriers against them. 

Additionally, Black owned businesses oftentimes have a cultural significance in local communities, as they help uplift the community and allow the culture to expand. Black businesses fuel the community and offer jobs and resources to Black Americans. If we want equality for people of all races and nationalities, Americans must help these black communities grow and thrive. 

To learn more about Pittsburgh Black owned businesses that you could buy from, follow @blackowned.pgh on Instagram. This account posts information about Black owned restaurants, clothing stores, companies and more everyday.

Sponsor Black Entrepreneurs

Black community matters in white writing
Sponsoring entrepreneurs can lead to economic growth in the Black community. Image Courtesy of Thrillist.

Sure, not everyone can support Black entrepreneurs financially. However, even if you do not have the money to invest in Black entrepreneurs ideas or companies, you may be able to help in other ways. 

Black American entrepreneurs are not looking for handouts. As Wadeeha Jackson (Cowry Crypto Asset Management LLC managing partner) said in an interview with Forbes, “I’m not asking for charity. I’m seeking fairness in the process for access to the resources where I am not restricted based on my ethnic background.” Black Americans need people who are willing to use their social and political capital to help them gain access to broad networks and opportunities that propel them forward. 

Black Americans have faced extreme discrimination when it comes to lending practices in regards to investing in businesses, property, and homes. Learn more about redlining and how Black Americans have dealt with discriminatory lending practices in order to better understand how odds have been stacked against Black business owners financially. 

Regardless, Black entrepreneurs are rarely backed with the same excitement as White entrepreneurs. Receiving financial investments from other business owners or even receiving loans from the federal banks can be extremely challenging.

If you cannot financially invest, think of the powerful people you may know, whether that be a relative, a friend, or a previous boss. If you know of any Black entrepreneurs, put them in contact with the people you know who may be able to help them reach their goals. 

If you do not know of any Black entrepreneurs, then encourage the people you may know who have the financial resources to invest their time or money in these 13 Organizations that Support Black Entrepreneurs

Contact Pittsburgh Representatives

Black Lives Matter protest in Pittsburgh
BLM protests in Pittsburgh are among one of the great ways to fight for the cause. Image courtesy of Trib Live.

As mentioned above, Black Americans face serious discrimination when it comes to trying to grow their businesses, both on a local and state level. Local and state governments have contracting opportunities in which they can invest in businesses. Oftentimes, small businesses could seriously benefit from the exposure to new markets through contracting. 

However, government contracting opportunities are frequently given to extremely large businesses. Petitioning your local and state representatives through written letters or phone calls is a great way to advocate for small businesses to receive these contracting opportunities. If Black owned businesses were offered the funds and resources of government contracting, they could seriously improve their success rate. 

Additionally, advocate for change in the way that business in Pittsburgh can become officially licensed. The licensing process is long and tedious, frequently discouraging new business owners from establishing themselves. If there are less barriers for new Black business owners, hopefully more Black owned businesses can establish themselves. 

Demanding change from your representatives is the best way to see change first hand! Plus, calling or writing a letter is almost completely free and takes very little time to do. Investing in the future of our Black communities is investing in everyone’s success in the future. Do not be shy!

Mike Doyle is the current Congressman who represents Pittsburgh. He can be contacted by email or through one of his offices. Pennsylvania’s senators include Bob Casey Jr. and Pat Toomey who can be contacted in regards to state level contracting.

Share on Social Media!

painting of Black Black Dollars Matter with Pittsburgh bridge in the background
@blackowned.pgh Shared this piece of original artwork made by @ashante_dj on their story to highlight her talent!

Lastly, a FREE way to help local Pittsburgh Black businesses is to share your positive experiences shopping Black businesses on social media. This is beyond easy to do. If you go to a local Black owned restaurant, let your phone eat first and snap an Instagram or Facebook story. Show a haul of what you ordered from a Black owned, Pittsburgh based retail store. Give your friends and followers recommendations of dishes to try or tell them your favorites. Share these posts with your friends and tag the business’s social media page. Giving Black owned businesses a shout-out can be a simple way to inform your friends of great local businesses to support in your area.

People often forget the impacts of social media. Seriously consider posting your physical support for Black businesses in Pittsburgh, especially if your following predominantly resides in Pittsburgh. Even if an Instagram post only actually gets the Black owned business a handful of new customers, it is simultaneously identifying successful community leaders. Recognizing Black business owners for their hard work is a way to uplift businesses and communities, while also thanking them for all of their hard work.

Not only is this suggestion the easiest, but it is also the most fun! Get out there and explore every great Black owned Pittsburgh Businesses have to offer! You could definitely discover a new favorite place to eat, hangout, or shop.

Supporting Black owned businesses in the Pittsburgh community benefits everyone. You get to explore and experience businesses you may not have known about while also helping the Black community succeed to their highest potential and gain more recognition. You may even discover that some of your favorite places to eat or shop are Black owned businesses! 

While at times it may feel that equality and recognition for Black Americans in the United States is a hard goal to reach, a few people really can make a difference. It is the little actions that count. Start small and support your community first. Change will come when we as a community can come together and celebrate the Black community for their successes and accomplishments.

Amy Viall

Amy is a full time student at the University of Pittsburgh, an avid ice cream lover, and a peer always willing to learn more about the world!
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