August is National Black Business Month, a time when communities across the US come together to support the Black-owned businesses in their cities. While the civil rights movement has made major strides over the decades, businesses owned by marginalized people often struggle to get a foot in the door or receive the funding they need to be successful.
Earlier this year, data analysts looking at the 2020 US Census Bureau Annual Business Survey found that only 2.4% of US businesses were reported to have Black owners, despite the fact that 12.8% of the US population is Black. In contrast, 86.5% of US businesses were found to have white owners, even though white people only make up 72% of the overall US population. Black-owned businesses are also more likely to be owned by women than the national average – 35.4% are operated by Black women, compared to 20.9% of overall US businesses. Both factors come with unique challenges due to institutional sexism and racial bias.
That’s where Black Business Month comes in. The initiative began in 2004, when John William Templeton and Frederick E. Jordan Sr. decided to use the month of August to draw awareness and attention to highlight the hard work of African American business owners.
In Portland, Black businesses have struggled throughout the city’s history, due to racist exclusion laws, redlining, and development projects that displaced Black families from their homes and places of work. Recently, several Black business owners spoke to Eater about their experiences and their efforts to network and support one despite the challenges of the pandemic and rising racial tensions nationwide.
Last month, Dean’s Beauty Salon and Barber Shop was in the news, because it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Dean’s is the oldest, continually operated Black-owned business in Oregon. Read more about this historic business here.
If you’d like to use this month to support the Black-owned businesses in your neighborhood, Venture Portland has put together a detailed list of local businesses grouped by location. You can find it here. And remember: business owners from marginalized communities deserve our support not just in August, but every month of the year.
(Photo caption: Desola Lanre Ologun, Unsplash)