Blackout Day spotlights the importance, power of Black consumers

Organizers of #BlackoutDay2020 are celebrating the impact of an economic protest calling for social justice. 

The national movement started by “The Blackout Coalition” and activist Calvin Martyr urged Black Americans and their allies not to spend any money on July 7.  It was meant to draw attention to the power of Black consumers in a call for racial equality and change.  If they needed to shop, supporters were encouraged to spend money at Black-owned businesses.

Regulars and return customers have kept business steady, even during a pandemic, at Gregory’s Gourmet Desserts in Oakland. They come for the pastries and the pies, but on Tuesday, they dropped in for another reason.

“We had a few customers come in with the sole purpose of purchasing something for Blackout Tuesday, they made it known and I appreciate that,” said owner Gregory Williams. 

Williams says he saw an uptick in sales for a Tuesday, due in part to the nationwide #BlackoutDay2020. The Blackout Coalition took to social media to encourage supporters to participate, gaining help from celebrities and companies.

“If we could do it for one day, it would shut the whole system down,” said an impassioned Martyr in a video on his YouTube channel.  “If not one Black person spent a dollar, I guarantee you we’ll get change.”

The economic boycott grew from the Black Lives Matter protests ignited by the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others. “The nexus between social change and economic power--it is a very important lever in getting the society in this country to a point where everyone is on an equal and level playing field,” said Bay Area business consultant Tracey Webb. 

Webb says the power of the purse is incredibly strong. According to Nielsen, Black Americans spent more than $1 trillion on consumer goods in 2018. Williams, the dessert chef, says he appreciate the new support. But, he hopes this is not just a day or a single purchase, he wants this to be a sustained movement towards change. “I appreciate the new awareness that’s coming across today, I hope that they really understand what’s really going on today,” said Williams.