Bernice Robinson built progress in a beauty shop. She had fought her way through segregated schools to a high school diploma with dreams of studying music in college. Yet stifled by legal and social opposition preventing her from entering university, she found herself opening shop in New York in the 1940s.
Free from the constraints of male and white clientele, her shop was one of many to provide African American women a place to talk politics, exchange information and learn to read free from cultural opposition.She taught young women to fill out paperwork and read newspapers and pushed them to take the voter registration exam. Her shop slowly became not just a place that served black women, but a viable business solely supported by black women. It would provide Robinson with financial independence, allow for community activism and educate a great number of women.
Robinson’s fight, for racial and gender equality persists today, in line with the continuing women’s movement, overlapping in their resistance.So while opting for one business over another might not seem transformative, Robinson would likely disagree. So here’s a handful of ways and reasons to put your purchasing power into female owned businesses.
- Engaging with female and minority owned businesses provides us the means to support one another and exchange ideas
- Demand women and minorities have a larger stake in leadership roles
- Support those businesses who donate a portion of sales to pro-women organizations, when multiplied these contributions have a profound impact on organizations
- When we control business, we’re able to change the conversation and expectation of female body image
- Our support better equips women with financial security and economic mobility
- Maureen Post
Photo Credit: Deborah Ellis