Photo: Alyssa Pointer, AJC/TNS
If riots are the voice of the unheard, the destruction of Black owned businesses during said riots is simply noise. Over the weekend, reports around the country began surfacing that Black owned businesses were being destroyed during disturbances. Some reported that whites were infiltrating protests and targeting Black owned businesses. Others saw these incidents simply as frustrated rioters who were simply indiscriminate in their destruction. Either way, Black businesses who are already struggling to get by, have a road to travel that is much longer. As a community, this cannot stand: our businesses must be regarded as sacred.
Smokes N’ Things is a premium vape and tobacco shop located in the North Philadelphia neighborhood, in Philly. Elliott Broaster is the owner, a 23-year-old serial entrepreneur, according to his IG page. Broaster launched the company as a 22-year-old student and on Sunday, it was broken into, vandalized and looted. Broaster, on his IG page, expressed his frustrations and utter hurt. Broaster, unfortunately, was not alone. Across the country, Black business owners experienced similar things. Black restaurants, shoe stores and other shops had their windows broken, were looted and vandalized. While the ultimate origins of the destruction aren’t necessarily clear, it is evident that too many young people aren’t in touch with the value of Black businesses and their sacredness.
Black owned businesses are the primary employers of Black people and the economic engine of the community. When protestors are arrested, it’s Black entrepreneurs that bail them out. When a family is struggling to pay for funeral expenses, Black entrepreneurs very often step up to meet the need. Scholarship programs, sponsoring youth sports teams, providing that first job and catering that community event, all of it is the work of Black entrepreneurs. To destroy Black businesses is to destroy our future, our promise and our hope. To destroy Black businesses is to destroy ourselves. Black businesses are sacred: hands off.