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As a Black woman in this country, most of the time I feel as though time is standing still or we are moving backwards. As much as I would like to believe we are moving the needle of equality further, my reality reminds me that we still have so much work to do.
In 2016 Michelle founded the Black-Owned Market, a space where Black brands come first. TheBOM’s mission is to increase the circulation of the Black dollar by creating a destination where people can shop conveniently with Black brands they love.
My work is a constant reminder of the need for Black business to exist and be able to thrive to maintain their sense of well being and create generational wealth for their families. This pandemic has reminded me of the resources that we still don’t have, the loans that aren’t readily available, the support that we still need, and that Black Lives have always mattered.
At the time when I started theBOM it seemed that almost every week a Black person was being killed by the cops or a self proclaimed vigilante. My community was waking up to the fact that we need to support our own and provide for ourselves.
“As a Black woman in this country, most of the time I feel as though time is standing still or we are moving backwards. As much as I would like to believe we are moving the needle of equality further, my reality reminds me that we still have so much work to do.”
One of the ways to do this is by supporting our culture. Corporations only invest in Black brands when they want our stamp of approval to make their brands “cool”. theBOM was a way to show the world that it is also cool to shop within our culture and to make sure our brands thrive also.
Black brands and women are overlooked and under resourced. We constantly get denied for loans or ignored by VC’s and have to work twice as hard to get our projects funded. Even when the numbers show that businesses run by diverse founders and/or women produce 35% higher returns. Equality just means leveling the playing field which allows Black brands and women the ability to properly compete in the marketplace.
I am hopeful for change. There are silver linings and when I look around at all of the Black woman entrepreneurs that still continue to create, they give me hope to keep going. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for and the progress continues with us. We need to continue asking for more and not be satisfied with the status quo.
Heather McGrath, @heathermcgrath, Boston
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Progress is being community-focused
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