Tag Archives: black enterprise

Black Support

   It is one thing to see the call for social justice rung on social media, but another to experience Black unity in my own city, my own community. I have never in my life experienced that here in Toronto and I want to share with you my experiences of Black unity.

   Yesterday evening, casually sitting on a bench at Dufferin and Bloor Street in the dying sun, I notice a throng of beautiful, Black women around me. Slim, natural Afro hair in simple but stately styles, and bronzed skin gleaming. Today, a spritely Black woman shakes my head and introduces herself and continues along her way. A few feet away, two young Black men stop to talk, both business owners and with obvious respect to one another. I watched all this with an incredulous smile, watched as a Black mother nursed her baby openly at the park and as a West Indian father chased his daughters with their adorable braided pigtails.

    I have to go buy injeera on Dufferin and King St, and as I do, my friend tells me to go support Plentea, a hip tea bar up the street that just opened and owned by two, strapping young Black men. We have coffee at Jal Gua Organic Cafe, owned by South Sudanese philanthropist Emmanuel Jal on Queen Street East. I try the delicious sorghum soup. I take a picture with Jal.

   I pass a homeless Black man lying filthy under the bridge that divides poorer Parkdale from trendy Queen West. I give him a silent prayer. Our people are coming together, we are uniting and supporting each other and in doing so strengthening ourselves collectively and powerfully. We are lifting each other up, opening shops, salons, working on Master  degrees and ditching the perm. We will not forget our brothers in the prisons, our unconscious brothers still in the slums, our sisters stuck in the cycle. Right now it is quality over quantity, but soon it will be the masses. Montreal may have been the Black Power movement of the 1960s, but Toronto is pushing, pulling and fighting it’s way to Black liberation through the support of our own people. This light, this is the light we must hold on to.

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Supporting the Black Community

   It is my fourth day visiting my hometown, and I consciously made a decision to shop small and shop Black. In my Parkdale neighbourhood, that was easy. The Black-owned West Indian supermarkets and roti restaurants have been routine stops for me, and my family, for a while. A

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nd besides, they have good breadfruit and yams.

    In other areas, like fashion, Toronto is lacking in modern styles and it’s temptingly easier to shop at H&M or Zara. But there are Black owned and stylish shops out there, if you dig.

   For my 2 year old son, I switched from buying his clothes from GAP Kids, H&M and NUNUNU to Black owned Quinn + Fox, as well as Louis B KiJewshand Yinibinibaby. It can be difficult to discern which brands are Black owned, and which are simply advertising an urban appeal like the shoe brand Akid Brand, which has dope shoes but is owned by an already, affluent Californian white couple.

   I want to support Black enterprise because it is a cornerstone of unity. Look at any ethnic communities in Toronto: Chinatown has Chinese people shopping at Chinese shops; Little India and Little Portugal and Little Italy have the same thing. Predominantly Jewish Forest Hill is a thriving grove of Jewish owned businesses and homes. We, the Black community, need to continue supporting Black owned enterprise instead of the businesses of the dominant culture. That way, when we rise collectively and individually, we can count on the sustained support of our own people. How powerful is that? Btw, Carol’s Daughter is owned by L’Oreal now.  Let’s build our communities, support each other and see our integrity and accomplishments grow.