“How can I support Black people and Black Lives Matter?” may have been a question you asked yourself over the summer as people across the nation seemed to awaken to the truth of this country’s centuries-deep pattern of anti-Black racism and each American’s personal responsibility to do something about it.
One way to ensure you continue supporting Black people and Black lives is to decolonize your shopping list.
In addition to the many other forms of support that are necessary, a strong ally and activist will also lend their financial support how they can. Not just to fundraisers but also to support the ambitions and art of Black people.
This doesn’t have to cost much. You can simply look at all of the things you tend to buy and see if there’s a way you can get it from a smaller, Black or BIPOC owned business.
Support doesn’t need to be corporate. You can support the people in your very own community and perhaps, in this case, the people on your very own campus.
With millions of small businesses being forced to close across the world, why not?
Brianna Hicks is the founder and one and only chef not only the founder, but also the one and only chef at Bri’s Kitchen.
Bri is a second-year student at SUNY New Paltz who cooks and sells a scrumptious array of Southern cuisine each week for pick up and delivery. Each week, she creates an entirely new menu with a different list of foods to order.
She started making plates to sell because she loves cooking, even saying it’s like an “alternate universe.” She continued to say, “It’s just me and the spices and the meat and the food. It’s like I get to be the director of the play [when I’m preparing meals] and I know at the end it’s going to be so good.”
She cooks her food with so much love that some of her friends even call her Momma Bri.
To order from Bri’s kitchen, read the instructions and fill out the form at this link.
Kwesi Sampah is a photographer focused on capturing different facets of the Black experience — and he does it with skill, beauty, depth and brilliance. Each image seems to capture an intimate and personal story about the person behind the lens, moving past formal and stiff photoshoots and emerging into the terrain of the vulnerable, the honest and the glorious nature of the subjects he chooses to capture.
One specific project he did was entitled, “TAKE US HOME: A lifelong photographic series highlighting the African diaspora’s influence in Western culture.” In the project, Kwesi captures images through two lenses: the style and culture he learned growing up in his native country of Ghana plus a second form of style he learned in America.
His cultural background, as well as that of the people he is surrounded and inspired by, have a clear impact on the way he tells stories through his art. After all, he describes himself simply as: “storyteller.”
To buy a print or schedule a photoshoot, use this link or DM Kwesi on Instagram at @__kyem.
Kandles by K
The CEO of this homemade candle business is fourth-year SUNY New Paltz geology major, Kianni. Her wide array of candles are categorized into three aromatic and soothing collections: sweet, classics and essential oils.
“Having a candle business is not something I thought I would be doing,” she admits. “It was a combination of inspiration, impulse and quarantine that compelled me to do so.”
Her customers are certainly glad she decided to do it. In fact, her first batch of candles sold out within the first hour of being made available.
Some other perks of ordering from the company is that the candles are about $5 less expensive than the average candle of a similar size. Her candles also have about double the fragrance to wax ratio of the average candle sold in America and she uses a special wax that helps the wax melt in an iridescent color.
In other words, burning one of these candles is truly a unique experience to smell and see.
“All candles are handmade with care,” Kianni promises on the company’s Instagram page.
To shop, visit kandlesbyk.bigcartel.com.
Mya Rose Bailey
In her senior year of high school, Mya created a portfolio that centered on racially charged experiences she and her family had endured as an Afro-Latinx family living in a predominantly white, Georgian suburb.
Though art had previously just been a casual hobby for her, as she created her portfolio her undeniable talent and the powerful force of the story she had to share with the world was unleashed fully.
Her favorite piece in the portfolio, “Mommy, I Want To Look Like her,” was created in reflection of the mindset she had when she was younger. “I constantly remember crying to my mother because I wanted to look like my friends with long blond hair and fair skin,” says Mya.
Since then the young artist has continued to let her creative prowess run free, creating art in different forms that is continuing to impact more and more people touched by the message she shares.
“I had a lot of people approach me about my art this past year and it felt amazing to know I had created a way for people to feel prideful in themselves and their skin, and remind them that they aren’t alone when they face hardships concerning race,” said Mya.
To view her art, visit her Instagram page @m.rxse.b. DM her to order a print or to request a commission.
LYF Supply is a clothing brand created by Troy-native David Raeli in 2017. The Black-owned and operated brand started out as a side hustle for artist Raeli who has been a master at upcycling and embroidering clothing for years. Soon, he decided to devote all of his time to this project.
LYF, which stands for Love Yourself First, is dedicated to promoting self-love, abundance, holding space for people of all races, genders and sexual orientations and being “pro-love.”
The company sells a variety of fashion-forward, innovative clothing. Their three latest collections are the self-love collection, Bleach’d (featuring clothing with bleach art) and the social distancing collection (including a hoodie that says “If you’re reading this, you’re too close” in a reference to Drake’s mixtape of a similar name).
To shop, visit the website here.
These were just five businesses and artists to support but, until the next edition, remember to seek out ways you can continue to support the Black community, not just by educating yourself but also financially, physically and emotionally as much as possible. True activism and support is never one-dimensional.
This holiday season, consider how you would like to spend your money and what systems you’d like to uplift with your purchases.
Do you want to uplift systems that exploit child labor, use machines that increase carbon emissions and help ensure billionaires like Jeff Bezos continue to profit off of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Or do you want to support a system that uplifts community and mutual support, helps people survive during the pandemic and supports each other’s ambitions and yields homemade products crafted with love?
The choice is yours.