ECONOMIC BLACKOUT IN SUPPORT OF BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT
Protesting with our money is not a new idea but on July 7 it was an important one. Calvin Martyr said so in his video that sparked the flame for Blackout Tuesday. He called back to the boycotts of the civil rights movements. On December 1, 1955, the Montgomery bus boycott was a 13-month mass protest that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public buses was unconstitutional.
July 7 #BlackoutTuesday was started by Calvin Martyr on May 8, 2020, with a video he posted on YouTube. Martyr stepped in front of his camera driven by the fierce need for justice and the frustrations that had been built through years of systematic racism and oppression.
“The only way as a people,” he said, “that we will get any change is if we have unity, solidarity, with the dollar.” The intent is to economically show the impact that Black lives have.
#BlackoutTuesday came in the wake of protests against police brutality. As society woke up to the unfairness plaguing Black people in America, Black-owned businesses finally began getting the support and attention that they need. Across the country, people grieved over the deaths of George Floyd, who died after being arrested by Minneapolis police. They cry out for Ahmaud Arbery, who was fatally shot while jogging in Brunswick, Georgia. There is an outrage for Breonna Taylor, who was shot by police while she was sleeping in her Louisville, Kentucky, home. Protests and other demonstrations have been the primary way of calling for change and action in the Black Lives Matter movement but the Blackout Tuesdays demonstration has shed a light on the instances of racism via economic means.
In a report from 2018 by Nielsen Global Connect, it states that Black consumers account for a disproportionate amount of product sales in a number of fast-moving consumer goods categories. Martyr talked about not spending money today in fast food establishments, Amazon, and fast fashion companies – places that don’t need your money today. Black women make up a large portion of the consumer pool in beauty and hair products as well, so instead of going to Walmart or Target, consider a Black-owned business instead, which accounts for $1.2 trillion in spending power. “More importantly, the data suggests that Black consumer spending already significantly affects the bottom line in many categories and industries, and brands can’t afford to lose favor or traction with this segment without potential negative impact.”
While the organizers stated that Blackout Tuesday 2020 is aimed at empowering Black people and that it is made for and by Black people, this is a movement that encourages allies to stand in solidarity. Tuesday, July 7 was a call to action. It’s as simple as keeping your wallet closed and leaving your cart empty.
Calvin Martyr’s video and message has been reposted countless times on social media, from Twitter to Instagram, to get people on the same page. Martyr said during his video that our communities had 60 days to get the word out from the day he posted it and the word is out. The Blackout Coalition has an Instagram and a Twitter which provides information and updates.
July 7 was about spending in a new way than you normally spend, it was about redirecting your funds specifically to Black-owned businesses. The Black Coalition created the Blackout Directory which will help you locate Black-owned businesses near you. Use your money to show you solidarity and to uplift Black lives. We have seen Black people supporting their own throughout history. For instance, Black Wall Street was created “for black people by black people.” Black Wall Street helped the Black community get their businesses started and support them the way Wall Street couldn’t.
It’s time to take a stand and fight for real change in our society now more than ever. The neglect and torture of Black people has been ongoing since before this nation became a nation. Black lives need to matter before we can have true justice and equality.
July 7 is a perfect example that change is possible if we come together with the Black community and stand in true solidarity. July 7 has the potential to show the world the impact that Black lives have in the only way that government officials understand—money. By choosing to support Black business we are consciously fighting back against the system that puts them down.
Stand with the Black Lives Matter movement and this first Blackout. Consciously use or withhold your money today. This is a step towards true change and an instance that can launch bigger movements.