February is mostly remembered for Valentine’s day. But is also Black History Month.
In that spirit, it’s important to pause, recognize and reflect on the pain and suffering African Americans have endured throughout US history. And although a lot of progress has been made when it comes to racial equality, we need to stay mindful that there is still a lot of work to be done.
On the other hand, and just as important is to celebrate all the contributions, talent, innovation, and legacies of the African American leaders, thinkers, and trailblazers of the past. After all, this is what Black History Month is all about.
Racial diversity is what makes us stronger and sets us apart from other countries. Our ability to innovate and overcome hardships unlike any other nation comes from the strength of this amazing group of people who are the heart and soul of the country.
Sadly, despite all our efforts, racial injustices are still very much part of our daily lives. Injustices that take root in hate and division and are meant to keep us apart from one another.
It may take time, maybe even years for us to heal and make amends. But it’s important to acknowledge it, at least for now, and striving for racial equality seems only fit if we truly want to move forward as a nation.
So what can we do to help?
Before we can move past racial harm, it’s important to educate ourselves on racial issues so we can learn the truth for ourselves, and only then have some understanding. A good place to start is learning about systemic racism. You can do this in several ways. By reading books seems like the obvious choice, but also by watching movies and documentaries that talk about the theme.
Here are some suggestions of movies you can put on your playlist:
- 13th by Ava Duvernay’s
- Do the right thing
- The Black Power Mixtape
- Malcolm X
- The Hate you U give
- I’m not your Negro
- Say Her Name: The Life And Death Of Sandra Bland
- Just Mercy
Another thing we can do to help us close the gap on racial inequality is to support the black community by shopping from black-owned businesses. I’m not saying this is going to solve all the racial problems but at least is a step in the right direction.
Here’s a list of black-owned business that you can help support today:
1. McBride Sisters Wine Collection
This is the largest black-owned and women-owned company in the US. The McBride Sisters started this joint business venture after a beautiful reunion. Their wine collection is made-up of eco-friendly wines and can be found in stores like Target, Kroger, Trader Joe’s, Ralph’s, Wal-Mart, and many more.
2. Red Bay Coffee Roasters
This is one of the country’s few black-owned specialty coffee companies. The original shop is located in Oakland, California but it has 5 more retail outlets. The owner Keba Konte, a long-time artist, started the first shop as a place to display his artwork. The company like many others across the country has been hit hard by the pandemic. You can find their products online in places like Amazon, but also in grocery stores like Whole Foods Market, Safeway, and CofeeGogo.
3. Brother Vellies
Founded by Creative Director Aurora James, this shoe company was inspired by the style of traditional South African shoes called veldskoen (also known as Vellies). But the company is not all about shoes. They also sell other accessories like handbags, sandals, and other shoe styles.
4. Lorraine West
Lorraine West started her jewelry line as a hobby, making unique pieces for friends and family until the demand for her jewelry grew more than she ever expected. Her design ranges from simple and geometric to vibrant and extravagant.
5. Hope for Flowers by Tracy Reese
Founded by Tracy Reese, this is a responsibly designed and produced clothing line based in Detroit.
6. The Wrap Life
This is a Brooklyn-based online store founded by Neenna Stella, Her specialty is head wraps, headbands, and turbanettes.
7. The Sixes
This company was created and idealized by Franci, and specializes in clothes for women that are tall, which Franci felt was a very underserved market being a tall woman herself.
Franci has a very diverse and impressive professional background. She started her career as a professional volleyball player in Europe, graduate from the Parson School of Design, has an MBA from Harvard Business School, and worked for Goldman Sacks.
8. The Mane Choice
Created by registered nurse Courtney Adeleye inspired by the DIY hair products she created for herself and shared with others on Youtube. Now the company has more than 100 products from hair strengthening shampoos to shine sprays.
Nyakio Greco started her own skincare line based on family beauty secrets passed onto her by her grandmother, who was a coffee farmer. The Nyakio line celebrates traditional clean and green ingredients from around the globe to help women achieve ageless beauty.
10. Mented Cosmetics
Founded by two friends who were on a never-ending quest to find the perfect shade of beige lipstick, they decided to take matters into their own hands and created their own line of neutral-toned lipstick specifically for women of color. But their line of products is not just about lipstick, it also includes foundation, powder, blush, eye shadow, nail polish, and more.
Founded by Nancy Twine, who became the youngest African-American woman to launch a line with Sephora. Briogeo offers a full selection of natural hair products that are fortified with hair healthy oils, antioxidants, and vitamins.
12. Uoma Beauty
Uoma, which means “beautiful” in Igbo (one of the languages spoken in Nigeria) was started by Nigerian-born, London-based Sharon Chuter — a former LVMH executive.
Sharon noticed the lack of diversity within the beauty industry especially for women of color and decided to create an expansive line of beauty products. The lineup of products caters to a variety of skin tones and undertones to match.
13. Pyer Moss
Pyer Moss founded in 2013, is a men’s and womenswear fashion label concerned with building a narrative that speaks about heritage and activism.
14. Phenomenal Woman
Inspired by one of Maya Angelou’s poems, this is a female-powered lifestyle brand that brings awareness to culture, causes, issues, and experiences of underrepresented communities.
15. Brown Girl Jane
This is a brand of beauty products that uses full-spectrum CBD oil in all of its products.
Here are a few more products you should try:
As a reminder, you don’t need to wait until is Black history month again to support these businesses. You can do it all year long. In fact, you can do it now by sharing this post on social media.
Happy Shopping loves!