When ‘Shopping While Black’ Goes Right

After a spate of racial-profiling stories, why not use the day after Thanksgiving to seek out black-owned businesses?

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Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the official beginning of the Christmas shopping season, lures hoards of Americans to major retailers in the wee hours of the morning for deals on everything from clothing to electronics.

A single glance at the composition of the crowds rabidly seeking half-price flat-screen televisions, and one thing is clear: The enthusiasm for the busiest shopping day of the year—named as it is because it’s when businesses typically begin to turn a profit, or find themselves “in the black”—knows no race or color.

But this year, the “holiday” (it’s not an official one) comes in the wake of  “shopping while black” incidents like racial-profiling allegations against Barneys New York and Macy’s. The stories are all too familiar to plenty of African Americans who have been treated like criminals while just trying to buy something.

Seems like this is as good a time as ever to redirect despair over the persistent bigotry behind racial profiling into something more proactive than halfhearted boycotts against retailers (who likely don’t care any more than Jay Z does about whether we patronize them). Why not spend at least some of that holiday budget at black-owned businesses?

Let’s talk about the wheres, whens and whys of this alternative take on “shopping while black,” the Friday after Thanksgiving and all year long.

OK, but how do I find black businesses?

Search for everything from clothes to art to electronics at the Black Owned Business Network‘s online directory. And of course we’re going to mention The Root’s own Black Business Pages, where we’re building the largest directory of black professional and black-owned companies in the United States.

I’m reading this while in line at Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. Is there an easier way?

Definitely. If you have your phone, you have access to the Around the Way app, which lets you locate the black-owned businesses near you, wherever you may be. “Other ethnic groups have been supporting their own businesses literally for thousands of years,” Eric Hamilton, chief marketing officer and co-founder of Around the Way, has said. “Around the Way is our attempt at doing what other racial and ethnic groups have been doing for a long time.”