Photo contributed by Yesenia Jones.
Yesenia Jones (left) and Patrice Graham (right), owner of Colors of Yoga.
Yesenia Jones | Staff Writer
Black History Month is a 28-day span specifically created to celebrate Black Excellence everywhere. Some choose to celebrate by diving deep into their cultural roots or by challenging themselves to shop for goods through black-owned businesses. But supporting black-owned businesses is a practice that should be continued throughout the year and not just within the month of February.
In a country dominated by capitalist values, money equals power. By supporting black-owned businesses, consumers are creating a currency flow that will empower the black community. With larger support, black business owners are able to expand, network and create new jobs within the community, thus developing economic power and building generational wealth.
While developing economic power, business owners also provide representation for people of color in spaces where there is traditionally no representation. Patrice Graham, owner of Colors of Yoga, began to understand the importance of representation after she began her journey as a yoga instructor.
“So I was just doing it by myself, it was a very personal thing,” Graham said. “Then when I was in yoga teacher training, my mom and sister started coming and they never came. Then I was like, ‘Oh maybe if a black person is teaching, more black people will do it.’”
Her yoga studio in downtown Raleigh provides a safe place for people of color to explore the teachings of yoga.
“Even when I think of yoga I think of a skinny white woman,” Graham said. “And nothing against that, but if you don’t see yourself represented, you’re less likely to try to break down this barrier. I think especially for people of color there is a lot of trauma and stress that we are working through and we just keep going.”
In order to bring in diverse students, Graham offers classes like Trap Yoga. Trap Yoga blends together two cultures—yoga and trap music—making people of color more likely to try yoga as a healthy stress reliever.
As more black-owned businesses promote culture through their services and products, black people are able to show pride for their culture on a broader scale while also keeping wealth in their communities.
Co-owner of Cultured by Gentleman’s Choice Kollection, Alec Virgil uses his business to help historically black fraternities and sororities rep their groups through socks, bowties and lapel pins. His brand also features accessories that feature sports teams and historically black colleges.
“We came up with the name ‘Cultured’ because our brand is literally for diversity,” Virgil said. “It’s about all the people, especially for those that feel like they are not represented. It’s about the culture.”
Cultural representation, physical representation and community wealth are all benefits of shopping black and buying black. Therefore, black people, and minorities in general, should practice a form of consumerism that intentionally supports the endeavors of their fellow community members. When revenue is being created and spent in the same communities, it benefits everyone involved.
Here are a few black-owned businesses to support in the Raleigh/Durham area:
Color of Yoga
Inclusive Yoga Studio aiming to promote self growth and wellness.
16 S Glenwood Avenue, Suite 30B
Raleigh, NC 27603
Cultured by Gentleman’s Choice Kollection
Accessory store aiming to provide items that represent a variety of cultural groups.
615 W Hargett St
Raleigh, NC 27603
Souly Vegan Cafe
Vegetarian/Vegan cafe specializing in soul food classics such as “fish” cakes, mac and cheese and collard greens.
4125 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd
Durham, North Carolina 27707
All natural skin/hair care made with botanical oils. Featuring products such as essentials oils and waterless lotions.
1325 Kirkland Rd #103
Raleigh, NC 27603