BlackOut Day Comes To Kalamazoo

Jul 6, 2020

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A grassroots, social-media-powered effort to highlight Black purchasing power has supporters in Southwest Michigan.

Nationally, BlackOut Day backers plan to patronize only Black-owned firms tomorrow, in what they hope will be an ongoing push to bolster those businesses and to show that African-American dollars are critical to the U.S. economy.

“For so long, the media especially in film and movies, and business has represented the Black dollar as not being valuable,” Ryan Singleton, executive director of the recently formed nonprofit Uplift Kalamazoo that provides resources and aid to the Black community, told WMUK. “But there are entire industries that are dependent on our money." Singleton said tomorrow he’ll shop at only local Black-owned businesses.

He added that it will take more than 24 hours to make a difference.

“I have heard a lot of people who will not only participate tomorrow, but who are really doing the work to make Black businesses a part of their lives,” Singleton said.

Jaren Bowman owns the Kalamazoo restaurant Load A Spud. He says as a Black business owner, he’ll be participating in BlackOut Day by default.

“If I do eat anywhere else tomorrow,” he added, “I will be conscious about spending my dollar in the Black community.”

Bowman says BlackOut Day can help the community learn about local African-American firms that “offer some of the same services as others,” with “the same quality or maybe even better.”

“It’s just good to give everybody a chance,” he said.