Black-owned businesses in Washington gain support in response to George Floyd's death

SEATTLE -- As outrage sparks across the country surrounding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, more people are stepping up to be the change they want to see in their communities.

However, not everyone is interested in participating in protests in the fight against injustice. Instead, people are spending money at black-owned businesses. They are seeking out these places to learn more about black culture, history and the community.

Joyce Hosea is the owner of Joyce’s Market and Café in Seattle’s Central District. She said the movement to support black business is opening dialogue, especially in these uncomfortable situations.

“If you find that someone is angry it’s because they can’t seem to get any clarity or justice or understanding, people can’t just move on. And it’s unfortunate that you’re constantly categorized because of the color of your skin,” said Hosea.

The line was out the door, Tuesday, at Central Café and Juice Bar. Owner Bridgette Johnson said she wasn’t expecting to be so busy on a day that’s typically slow.

“There was something on Instagram basically support your minority business, black owned business. And I think people are really taking heed and they’re doing it,” said Johnson.

As people across the country protest Floyd’s death, others are using their wallets to promote change and unity.

“What I think this is doing is it’s bringing people out so they can see what the black businesses are. And then they go in and say ‘Okay, I feel comfortable in there. I can patronize them,’” said Johnson. “I’m a talker and I talk to all my customers. I ask them about them and they start asking about me like, ‘Oh, what made you want to get in this,’ and I tell them my story. So, then that brings the connection and then they feel comfortable and then they come back.”

Customers have been very supportive at Hosea’s business. She said she appreciates the people who see beyond the hateful agenda that has hijacked peaceful protests in Washington.

“We want to be heard and understand that everybody doesn’t have the same views as the people that have come here and caused all this destruction. It’s very painful,” said Hosea.

Pain in the black community is what Hosea said she wants others to recognize and work together to heal. She said for some people, resolving the hate has to start at the root.

“Inherited things that you might have learned from your great grandparents or grandparents. You have to open your eyes,” said Hosea. “I think they need to open their hearts and just let it go. Let it go.”

Both business owners said the support is a start towards positive change. Johnson said what everyone can do to make a difference is research political candidates and vote.

“We need to know what these people are doing because that’s how we’re going to make change. That’s it. Because if we didn’t have some of these crazy people that are in office—they got voted into office into office. So, it’s going to take our vote to get them out of office,” said Johnson.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, several black business owners hosted different events inviting people to learn more about the culture. Many of them said they plan to host the events in the future once things open up again. They said that could be another opportunity in the future to help build relationships among races.

Seattle Met published an article about black-owned restaurants currently open for takeout on its website. The Stranger published a guide for different events, black-owned restaurants and other ways to support the movement on its website.