There’s a power dynamic that has been at work for decades, centuries, that rewards – or at least tolerates – bigotry, oppression and injustice against blacks and minorities, a power dynamic that needs a tectonic shift (or just needs to be obliterated). It’s been so entrenched and intractable for so long that the only available response is to take to the streets in protest. And while a show of solidarity can be powerful and cathartic, protests and riots have been going on for over 100 years in this country, and yet blacks and minorities are still targets of police brutality and injustice.
But I’m just one person, so what can I do?
One strategy is a political tipping point if enough take action. Make a list of your federal and state government reps and contact them demanding police reform. Send a list of reform ideas, such as an end to qualified immunity, an end to weaponizing police departments, better and longer police academy training with greater focus on de-escalation and outreach, ongoing sensitivity training, a much greater vetting process for new hires, greater oversight and consequences to root out bad actors, and bonus programs that encourage good behavior. Contact your mayor with the same demands, then go to your city and county council meetings and get vocal during the open mic period of the session.
Find your federal government reps
Find your state government reps
Another strategy is more personal. A lot of police departments have community outreach programs, such as meet and greet hours at local coffee shops where anyone can show up. Go and talk with them about your concerns and what they think should be done to end police brutality. They’re human. If enough people went and talked with them about these same issues, it would have to make some impact.
Money is power, ownership is power
In San Francisco and Oakland, there’s been a gradual purging of black communities as gentrification, redlining and other forces have pushed out families that had been there for generations. Those forces of economic racial injustice have also been a rot at the core of black communities, leading to a host of ills.
One solution to stronger, more resilient black communities are more black-owned businesses that can act as a bulwark against an unjust economic system. And one easy way to ensure the growth of black-owned businesses is for people to support them with their dollars. But to spend your money at black-owned businesses, you have to know who they are and where to find them.
You can find that information at various sites like Support Black Owned, which lists 296 black-owned businesses throughout the Bay Area, which is by no means exhaustive but a good place to start. And while you may not often need the services of a trucking company or biological consultant, everyone needs to eat. And the good thing is, you can support restaurants again and again. With that, here’s a list put together by KQED’s Bay Area Bites of black-owned eateries in the Bay Area offering everything from pizza and barbecue to pies and cupcakes.
Black-Owned Restaurants in San Francisco
Miyako Old-Fashioned Ice Cream (Fillmore)
Auntie April’s (Bayview)
Sheba Piano Lounge (Fillmore)
Little Skillet (SoMa)
Queen’s Louisiana Po-Boy Cafe (Bayview)
Radio Africa Kitchen (Bayview)
Sam Jordan’s Bar (Bayview)
Frisco Fried (Bayview)
Yvonne’s Southern Sweets (Bayview)
Amawele’s South African Kitchen (Embarcadero)
Club Waziema (NoPa)
Two Jacks Nik’s Place (Lower Haight)
International Smoke (SoMa)
Black-Owned Restaurants in the South Bay / Peninsula
Back a Yard Caribbean Grill (Menlo Park & San Jose)
Walia Ethiopian Cuisine (San Jose)
Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant (San Jose)
Black-Owned Restaurants in the East Bay
Lena’s Soul Food Cafe (Oakland)
Kingston 11 Cuisine (Oakland)
Southern Cafe (Oakland and Antioch)
Lois the Pie Queen (Oakland)
Home of Chicken and Waffles (Oakland)
Souley Vegan (Oakland)
Miss Ollie’s (Oakland)
Crumble & Whisk Patisserie (Berkeley)
Everett & Jones Barbeque (Oakland, Berkeley and Hayward)
New Karibbean City (Oakland)
Goeffrey’s Inner Circle (Oakland)
Ensarro Ethiopian (Oakland)
Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement (Emeryville)
Suya African Grill (Oakland)
ENAT Honey Winery (Oakland)
Reve Bistro (Lafayette)
Cupcakin’ Bake Shop (Oakland and Berkeley)