Groups mark successful Blackout Day

Black America and allies use massive spending power

Lisa Fitch Editor-in-chief | 7/16/2020, midnight

The Blackout Coalition, in partnership with OneUnited Bank, announced the success of #BlackOutDay2020, which was held July 7. Black America and its allies successfully demonstrated their understanding of how to use their spending power to create positive change in America.

With over two million registering their support on social media, and millions more committed to the process, the coalition believes Black America and its allies are prepared to utilize their economic power to ensure corporations and governmental entities recognize and respect the political, social and economic rights of Black Americans.

“Black America and its allies can and will use our spending power to demonstrate that today is a new day in America. We believe in justice and equality for all Americans,” said Calvin Martyr, one of the founders of The Blackout Coalition.

"Black dollars matter! No justice, no profit! These seven words need to be the seven steps from the potential to the actual, as a reawakened Black citizenry unveils a secret hiding in plain sight: We don't have to wait until we become entrepreneurially adept, or until we build bustling, thriving Black business sectors across the country in order to be economically impactful—we have all we need RIGHT NOW to economically energize and enable our individual and collective betterment,” said Michael Phillippe Jones in a recent OW advertorial.

BlackOutDay2020 started out as an idea on social media and quickly caught fire, going from non-existence to becoming a nationwide conversation and movement to organize spending power to create positive social change in America. Across the nation, America is mourning the deaths of too many innocent Black people who have been killed by racism. Peaceful protestors, including diverse ethnicities and generations, are fighting for justice for the many lives lost to police brutality and violence at the hands of vigilantes.

Now elected officials, corporations and organizations are joining the movement to address systemic racism at all levels from the board room to senior management, staffing, policies and brand name. According to the coalition, change is in the air and Black America will no longer tolerate injustice and inequality.

In 2016, the #BankBlack and #BuyBlack Movements began with a simple text and call to action from rapper and activist Killer Mike to Black America to move its money to Black owned banks, to garner the economic spending power of Black America and re-channel it back into communities. Since that time, while corporate America remained relatively silent, OneUnited Bank actively supported social justice movements including #BlackLivesMatter, #TakeAKnee, the#1619Project….and now the #BlackOutDay2020.

“As the largest Black-owned bank in America, we are compelled to play a leadership role to galvanize our community and allies in support of #BlackOutDay2020, and to fight for social and economic justice,” stated Kevin Cohee, chairman & CEO of OneUnited Bank. “We need to use our power—our spending power, our vote and our voice—to demand criminal justice reform and to close the racial wealth gap.”

The U.S. Black Chambers (USBC), which brands itself as the voice of Black business owners and an advocate for resources and policies that impact Black business owners, stated in a July 7 email:

“Today: Buy-Black or Don't Buy at All. Stand with Us in Solidarity. Today is Blackout Day, a day of solidarity to take an economic stand against racism and brutality by refusing to spend any money outside of Black-owned businesses. #BLACKOutDay2020.”

USBC President Ron Busby went before the Congressional Committee on Financial Services: Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion to voice the concerns of Black business owners on July 9.

“Black business owners historically and presently face systemic barriers to resources and access to capital, to name a few,” Busby said. The facts outlined in the 2019 Federal Reserve Bank report demonstrate the American banking institution is still systemically discriminatory, predatory, and racist.”

During the virtual hearing, which was titled “Access Denied: Challenges for Women and Minority Owned Businesses Accessing Capital and Financial Services during the Pandemic” Busby noted that the USBC represents 145 Chambers across the country.

“Clearly minority and women owned businesses —MWBEs—are critical components of the nation's vast economy,” Busby told the subcommittee. “Collectively, they provide in upwards of one trillion in annual receipts and contribute more than 9 million jobs to the country's labor market. MWBE's are the fastest growing segment of businesses.

“Despite this extraordinary impact, it is Black business owners and entrepreneurs that history and data show face systemic barriers to entrepreneurial resources and access to capital among other daunting challenges.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43) is the chair of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, which oversees the subcommittee and is hosting a number of virtual hearings during the pandemic.

“The country lost 3.3 million small businesses. in the first and second quarters of the year,” Busby said, noting that 41 percent of those businesses were Black. “Nearly 450,000 Black businesses closed between the months of February and April. Black unemployment peaked at nearly 17 percent last month.

Busby insists that government and the public support of Black-owned businesses is of tantamount importance.

“Of the 650 thousand PPP loans made above $150,000 only 143 balck firms received a loan of that size,” Busby said. “Ninety percent of members of the Black chambers reported they received far less than they asked for or none at all.”