Ian Wesley of Akron Honey Company presenting at Slide Jam 2014

How to responsibly support Black businesses and the people who own them

by Cir L’Bert Jr.

Directly investing in a Black business is a crucial way that people can divest from the infrastructure of systemic racism that fuels police violence, mass incarceration, and mass inequity, and invest directly into Black community development, which results in a more just and equitable environment for those communities and those around them.

While this effort is necessary, there also things that white patrons must consider so that they are building well-being rather than compounding harm.

Occasionally, Black businesses are unprepared for the sudden influx of customers the white community can bring, and the subsequent frustration with wait times & shortages that can happen as a result.

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There are also times when white patrons can bring their own cultural values and demands to a business rather than enjoying the new experience (i.e. complaining about a lack of vegan dishes rather than ordering the sides). 

And unfortunately, there is a long history of racial violence against Black people and businesses in the U.S. that has often been caused, ignored, or condoned by the white community. 

We want to build conditions in Akron that allow everyone to share in the collective wealth, joy, and well-being that real equity brings. 

For that reason we would ask white patrons to ask themselves the following questions in three areas before visiting or patronizing the listed businesses:


How will I schedule my time for possible waits and remain supportive during busy times?

When I decide what I want, will I choose secondary items in case of shortages?

How can I best support the workers at this business?

How will I amplify the reach of this business along with this info about real support?


How will I keep myself informed about white supremacy culture characteristics so I’m able to identify when they show up in me?

How will I show up ready to take in a new experience that openly holds curiosity, discomfort, and a goal of collective rather than individual joy?

How will I show the workers the same respect and patience I would expect for myself, or members of my family and community in the same industry?

How will I talk to the white people I’m with about these issues?


How will I educate myself on police violence, right wing racist groups, and the other ways white supremacy culture harms Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC) communities?

How will I stay informed about my area police department as well as the right wing racist groups operating in my neighborhood?

How will I educate myself on alternatives to policing?

What commitment will I make with myself and the white people around me to use alternatives to calling the police to that space if we feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or become angry?

What commitment will I make with myself and the white people around me about how we respond and intervene to help Black people if they are facing harm from police or right wing racist groups?

“Everybody and everything for everybody.”