Lists of Inland Empire Black owned businesses began circulating social media last week in response to protests over institutional racism and the in-custody death of George Floyd.
From Google spreadsheets to graphics on Instagram, lists of Black owned businesses are being touted as a way for consumers to show solidarity with the black community.
“They’ve always been here," says Tammy Martin-Ryles. "They’ve always been part of the community and you know this is not something new."
Martin-Ryles is president of the Black Chamber of Commerce Inland Empire, a high school science and business teacher and a small business owner. She says she has several genuinely caring questions for people who share the lists. Did the death of George Floyd really help people realize Black business is important to the economy? Or does it come from guilt and a reevaluation of Black people? Or something else?
Darren Conkerite, a Riverside business owner whose café was among those being shared online, thinks the lists are necessary for people to realize what’s in the community.
“I love the lists," says Conkerite. "I think that the community maybe should have made a list you know years ago to show where certain types of businesses are and different people can get support from them."
His 24-year-old cafe Back 2 the Grind is one that survived the shutdown and has started reopening. But this hasn’t been the case for all.
Not only have African Americans been disproportionally effected by COVID-19, the number of working Black businesses decreased by over 40 percent nationally from February to April—the highest of any racial group.
Which is why Martin-Ryles, says the chamber is not only providing webinars on how to successfully operate during the pandemic but hope.
“We have to make sure that people have hope," says Martin-Ryles. "And know that people are here and we care and we’re all in this together with this COVID-19 and the quarantine and everything else that’s going on.”
For more information on Black owned businesses visit: