‘Insecure’ Star Issa Rae Happy to Help Certify Black-owned Businesses
In SummaryActress, writer and producer Issa Rae is using her skills to make it easier for consumers to identify and shop with Black business owners.
Issa Rae has joined forces with American Express and U.S. Black Chambers to promote ByBlack, the first nationwide certification program for Black business owners.
According to its website, ByBlack seeks to provide significant economic opportunities for Black people through Black businesses in its communities. This goal is achieved through developing innovative tools and smart partnerships that help Black businesses grow and thrive. Members have access to education and financial resources as well.
“Black businesses are American businesses. I think it’s one thing to support them during a very specific time when you feel guilty, but we’re beyond that,” said Rae, per Variety’s Marc Malkin. “To support these businesses year-round, and to know what you’re supporting and actively making an effort to do so, is extremely necessary. To have a platform that can allow Americans to easily find Black businesses is such a necessary change.”
According to an H&R Block survey of nearly 3,000 small business owners, Black-owned businesses continue to be disproportionately affected by the lingering pandemic. The survey found that 53% of Black business owners have seen their revenue drop by half since the pandemic began, compared to 37% of white business owners. Black business owners also had more difficulty creating an online presence for their organizations, and were more likely to have clients submit late payments.
Sienna Naturals, Rae’s own health and beauty line, was just certified via ByBlack. She’s also a partner in Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen, a three-location coffee shop business based in Los Angeles.
To begin the free certification process, businesses must first show proof of identification, as well as proof that their company is 51% Black-owned and controlled by a Black business owner. The online application takes about 30 minutes to complete and will take about 30 days to process and certify. Then, create a profile for your business on the ByBlack directory. The directory helps Black-owned businesses to connect, collaborate with others in the community, raise their visibility and enhance revenue prospects.
Rae believes Hollywood has made progress toward diversity and inclusion, but it still has a long way to go. In fact, on Monday morning she replied to a tweet from The Atlantic journalist Hannah Giorgis by saying, “tattoo this article on my back,” an obvious sign of agreeance.
In the tweet, Giorgis shares a link to an article after she says she chatted with writers, producers, and executives about the uneven progress and “negotiated authenticity” that has characterized Black television since its inception, including during this strange year of reckoning.
“We have only scratched the surface of the collective power of Black businesses, so I am excited to join American Express and the USBC to shine a light on the opportunities ByBlack presents,” said Rae, per an official press release. “ByBlack is a powerful platform that connects Black business owners with new revenue streams and helps all of us find and shop at standout businesses. Together we can spread the word to support small Black businesses.”