ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – August is National Black Business Month, a celebration of black-owned businesses across the country.
Here in Alaska, the Alaska Black Caucus helped bring attention to the month by promoting Blackout Friday.
Every Friday in August, ABC asked people to spend money only at black-owned businesses. They even kicked off the event earlier in the month with a soul food mixer at Roscoe’s Catfish and Barbeque.
“Maybe the culture isn’t something you’re familiar with, but you know it’s important to get out into areas and communities you don’t normally visit,” said Alaska Black Caucus President/CEO Celeste Hodge Growden.
ABC also held a black-owned business showcase in Roscoe the first week of August, giving other black-owned businesses in the city of Anchorage the opportunity to showcase themselves and their products. Some popular black-owned businesses featured at the event were Dana Mae’s Cookies and The Drip, a family-owned coffee shop serving the Anchorage community with local flavors.
“We are honored to be a part of this and have something every Friday this month; we will have ongoing deals,” said Drip owner Rafael Moore.
While businesses such as The Drip and Roscoe’s were ready to participate in the National Black Business Month and Blackout Friday celebration here in Alaska, one black-owned business decided not to participate in Blackout Friday .
Waffles and Whatnot owner Derrick Green decided he would not be participating in Blackout Fridays this month. Green opened Waffles and Whatnot in 2016 on the sidewalk as a food truck. He then opened his first store in Eagle River. After closing that store, he was able to open another store in Anchorage.
Green said his reason for not participating in Blackout Friday is that he feels that just one day is not enough.
“I don’t feel that one day is effective enough,” Green said. “I support recirculating black dollars within the black community, as other communities do very effectively, but I don’t think one day is enough to make a meaningful impact.”
“I can’t say I’m not going to shop today at Target because it’s Blackout Friday no, we can do more,” Green said.
Green believes it just doesn’t go far enough to take the spotlight one day because the black community hasn’t changed its mindset.
“You’re either a consumer or a producer,” Green said. “And our community is primarily a consumer, and until they change the mindset of being a consumer — it would be one thing if I had a restaurant and just went to Costco, I just went to Costco and bought things from Costco and resell it. I’m not producing anything.”
He believes the black community needs to change from consumers to producers.
Green produces about 95% of the food in his restaurant, from the labels on his products to the product that goes into the bags he produces.
Still, others believe that setting aside one day a week to make sure people generate dollars for black-owned businesses is a start.
“Slow progress is better than no progress,” Moore said. “You always hear the saying that a lot of progress has been made, but there is a lot more to be done. How is that going to happen if you’re not making any progress to make it happen?”
Moore says he knows Blackout Friday and the Black Business Month celebration won’t change everything, but he believes if the black community starts here, it could be something bigger by next year.
“If we as a black community are going to progress as a whole, then it starts with us,” Moore said. “It’s our responsibility to make sure we’re taken care of.”
Moore’s wife, Mychal, says that growing up in Alaska, she never had conversations about Historically Black colleges and universities or supporting black businesses. Her father owned a tow truck company and was never seen as a black-owned company.
“Knowing that there are so many black businesses that are here today, and no one is still making it known every day. So if it’s a month that we really need to take advantage of, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Mychal Moore said.
The Moores said they feel honored for the opportunity and feel the event is necessary to help advance the Black community and the Anchorage community as a whole.
Although the views are different, the goal is still the same: to give the black community the opportunity to change from consumers to producers. Whether BIPOC or not, participating in the event helps create the opportunity for inclusiveness and community development.
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