The weather has been getting colder, the days are growing shorter, and Bobcats are migrating back home for break. That can only mean one thing – the beginning of the winter holiday season and gift giving. This season, students can get wonderful gifts for their loved ones while also uplifting others by purchasing presents from BIPOC-owned small businesses.
Putting your money where your mouth is represents a crucial step in allocating power. In capitalist societies, wealth is equatable with dominance, so power and control in America stem from who has the most fiscal leverage. With an economic top 1% that is 90% white individuals, white people’s assets only amplify the privileges that their skin tone affords them. Large corporations primarily benefit the already wealthy, and many of them engage in unethical practices such as sourcing from prison labor or mass-contributing to the production of fossil fuel (to name a few).
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has only made these big companies richer, given their ability to adapt to new virtual demands, and has made it significantly more difficult for small businesses to stay afloat. America’s 644 billionaires have collectively gained over one trillion dollars in net profits from the pandemic alone; Amazon owner Jeff Bezos received one of the largest income boosts of his career during the heights of March’s quarantine. Fiscal trends like these have only widened the income inequality chasm. Buying directly from small businesses instead of third-party delivery companies like Amazon sends funds to enterprises that need it most rather than organizations already sitting on mountains of wealth.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, here is some inspiration to jumpstart your shopping experience.
Quw’utsun’ Made is an Indigenous-owned home goods brand that specializes in candles, perfumes, soaps, and other wellness products. The owner of the brand, Arianna Johnny-Wadsworth, drew from the guidance and medicinal knowledge of the elders in her tribes to create her products. The scents of her products are derived from plants native to the environment of her home tribe. Wadsworth is from the Quw’utsun’ and Cowichan tribes, which are located in Unceded Coast Salish Territory, now known as Vancouver, British Columbia. She hopes to honor the traditions of her tribe through these products.
High quality and trendy jewelry that comes at great prices can be very hard to find. Stella and Haas makes beautiful and durable pieces of jewelry with comprehensive collections of items that come in all sorts of styles. You can even go the extra step in personalizing your gifts by getting an initial or a zodiac sign engraved into whatever piece you choose. If you are feeling stumped about where to start looking among their extensive options, they also have gift guides available on their website. Stella and Haas is a Black-owned company that prioritizes inclusivity as a part of their core mission.
Know anyone that needs a new supply of masks, a nice tie, or even some fun scrunchies? Pocketsquare Clothing is a Latinx-owned menswear brand that makes beautiful patterned accessories. While they specialize mostly in clothing for formal events, with their pocket squares and ties as their central products, they also offer all sorts of wellness products like shaving kits and cosmetics.
Books are one of the most valuable presents available, as the knowledge gained from literature can last the recipient a lifetime. Many Black-owned bookstores can take remote orders from their websites, which is especially useful for shopping during COVID-19. Not only does this list from Lit Hub provide information about the bookstores that are taking remote orders, but it also organizes them by location, which can be useful if the particular store you select is unable to ship to your location or is overwhelmed by delivery requests.
A hallmark of anti-racist work is the decision by those in positions of monetary and racial privilege to redistribute their wealth. While supporting these businesses is a great way to actualize efforts for achieving equality, this practice cannot be done without also committing to being anti-racist in all other aspects of daily life. Supporting BIPOC-owned businesses can help in the short term, but inequality will continue to exist unless there is large scale structural change. Engaging with these companies is merely a step toward progress; thus, when you shop this year, it’s important to do so mindfully.