What Is Blackout Day 2020?
While the recent Black Lives Matter protests and rallies have been the most visible form of movement aimed at racial equality, there's an entirely different kind of protest happening today. Blackout Day 2020, which, according to its official website, is a "day of solidarity in America where not one Black person in America spends a dollar outside of businesses owned by Black people," is hoping to close the racial wealth gap and show America the Black community's spending power.
On July 7, 2020, Blackout Day (look for the hashtag #BlackoutDay2020 on social media) initiative will bring people together in economic solidarity and bring attention to Black-owned businesses. The campaign is encouraging everyone to rally around Black-owned businesses in a way to stand together against racial injustice and show big business everywhere that change can come when people take control with their dollar.
Blackout Day comes on the heels of past movements, such as #BuyBlack and #BankBlack, which aimed to narrow the wealth gap, according to Complex, and keep resources within the Black community. While some huge corporations have positioned themselves as allies of the Black community, Blackout Day is hoping to go even further and start reforms in America's white-dominated economic system.
What is #BlackoutDay2020?
Mars Sebastian, T’von Green, and Nukirk — three Black Tumblr users — coined The Blackout back in 2015. #TheBlackout started as a celebration of Blackness that involved sharing selfies on social media, but soon grew to #BlackoutDay, which sought to create a positive space for Black people to be "represented and welcomed," according to the trio's tumblr.
"We want to show that Black History is happening today, right now," they wrote. "That we are all Black History." The team has continued to help foster the Black community online, but are not affiliated with this year's boycott.
Calvin Martyr, a Texas resident and founder of the Blackout Coalition, is the guy behind it. Complex explains that this year's event is a "one-day social media campaign of economic solidarity to fight racial injustice."
"In order to break free from the chains of financial servility, we will organize days, weeks, months, and years if necessary when not one Black person in America will spend a dollar outside of our community," the website reads.
CNN reports that huge companies like Procter & Gamble and Cisco Systems, along with organizations like historically Black sorority Zeta Phi Beta and celebrities such as T.I. have voiced their support for the initiative.
What are people doing for #BlackoutDay2020?
Some shoppers are flexing their buying power by not buying anything at all for 24 hours. And if people do have to go out and spend, the organization urges them to only buy from Black-owned businesses. Complex explains that Black Americans have over $1 trillion in spending power, which is more than enough to make an impact on the economy as a whole. According to USA Today, "more than 13,000 people joined a Facebook group about an entire 'blackout week' July 1 through 7."
What makes #BlackoutDay2020 so important this year?
Supporting Black businesses has always been important, but as America's racial disparities become more and more clear in the wake of police violence and the Black Lives Matter rallies across the country and around the world, many see the current situation as imperative to finding economic equality.
In a 2019 Nielsen Report titled "It's in the Bag: Black Consumers' Path to Purchase," researchers found that African-American consumer spending continues to grow. However, advertising aimed at Black people fell by 5% between 2017 and 2018. The team found that marketers "simultaneously ignore the lived experiences of Black consumers that define Black culture."
How can you support #BlackoutDay2020?
Anyone who wants to participate should only spend their money at Black businesses. We Buy Black and My Black Receipt have resources for anyone looking for specific clothing labels, grocery stores, restaurants, hair and nail salons, and more.
If anyone is facing financial difficulties because of the coronavirus pandemic or for any other reason, Martyr does have a few suggestions such as "call an elder" or "research your family tree."
But shoppers shouldn't just shop Black on #BlackoutDay2020. Many Black-owned businesses do not want to be seen as only catering to one specific group of shoppers. Alysia Sargent, the co-founder of dating site Go Dutch Today, explained that diversity is key, no matter what day it is. During an appearance on NPR's Code Switch, she said, "It's important for us to be as diverse as possible so that we are not labeled as ‘the black dating app,’ because that’s not our goal."