The Black community has been especially hard hit by the pandemic, and in the wake of another string of murders of Black people at the hands of law enforcement and white supremacists, the Black Lives Matter movement has gained unprecedented momentum, locally and around the world. Just as much now as ever, local Black-owned businesses and nonprofits need and deserve our support– part of a long-term, sustainable commitment to helping dismantle white supremacy in our community. Red Tricycle offers this list of just a few of Portland’s awesome, family-friendly Black-owned businesses and nonprofit
Signs of Justice
Jameesa and Bryan Oakley already had a sign printing business, but when Trump was elected, they decided to use their vocation to impact social change. Their online shop now features striking yard signs, bumper stickers, and apparel featuring progressive statements on a range of issues, available for bulk order. Red Tricycle asked the Oakleys what they loves about what they do. "Our graphics bring progressive truths to the mainstream," Jameesa says. "The narrative in America is changing and we believe we played a small role." During the pandemic, the Oakleys have encountered supply chain issues and have had to use their creativity to overcome them. "It tested our resolve," the Oakleys say. "We’re stronger because of it."After the George Floyd murder tapes were released, demand increased more than Signs of Justice could have ever expected, and orders were temporarily delayed. "We couldn’t believe how kind and patient most people were. Love is winning."
Signs of Justice
9220 SW Barbur Blvd. Suite #119-122
Got a classic Portland home in need of an update or expansion? For growing families, Willco is the general contractor to choose, with their focus on remodeling, historical renovations, and residential and commercial painting. Co-owned by James Garrett and Ruth Warren, Willco’s diverse team of experts have years of experience to take your home projects from dream to reality. Like most small businesses, Warren says, Willco has felt the impacts of the pandemic, but have had the good fortune of remaining open and retaining most of their employees, adjusting policies to provide a safe working environment for all. The Black Lives Matter movement “shines a light and exposes what has been happening for too long,” Warren says. “I am comforted by the marches in my community and the desire to speak up against racism and injustice, and the willingness to listen and have hard conversations.”
920 SE Caruthers St.
Portland, OR 97214
Anjelica Otness started Fat Cupcake for good reasons: she has always loved eating dessert, she enjoys the creativity of decorating cupcakes, and she wanted to create an environment where people feel loved, welcome, and known. “I love sharing the joy of a cupcake and celebrating exciting life events or being there when things are challenging,” Otness says. She jokes, “It's also a perk to be able to eat a treat whenever you want." In the wake of the pandemic, Fat Cupcake has added extra safety precautions to prioritize team members’ and guests’ health and safety. And with the world’s increased support for the Black Lives Matter movement, Otness says they’ve seen a tremendous amount of support from the local community in placing orders, coming in for the first time, and promoting Fat Cupcake.
19273 Molalla Ave., Oregon City
6011 S.E. 72nd Ave., Portland
13203 SE 172nd Ave., Happy Valley
The Black Parent Initiative
This nonprofit was created in 2006, to assist Black parents in developing critical parenting skills and in learning to be great advocates for their children's health, education and well-being. The Black Parent Initiative starts with a deep love for the community, striving to serve them well by being a constant anchor for them. BPI says helping Black families recognize their intrinsic value, beauty and capacity is the best part about their work. During the pandemic, BPI has had to adjust how they deliver services, but continues to do home visits via Facetime and Zoom, lead groups, offer doula lactation consulting, and continue with family and school engagement and employment services, by using technology and social distancing. BPI is grateful for the outpouring of love from our greater community in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. They continue to work to alleviate the stress and trauma that results from the ongoing onslaught of violence and domestic terrorism against Black people.
The Black Parent Initiative
2915 NE Martin Luther King Blvd.
With over 24 years of experience working with children, Paula Rogers founded Reggio-inspired Flouriche preschool with the intention to combine the best of three guiding principles for developing minds: flourish, nourish, and niche. “The best part is the laughter and natural compassion that I am privileged to witness every day,” Rogers says. During the pandemic, the community has had to adjust to many changes designed to keep kids safe, from daily health checks to rotating mealtimes in order to reduce the number of children at the table. They’ve also begun incorporating Zoom circle times to include children who are unable to come to Flouriche, in order to help children feel connected. Flouriche stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement that is resounding all over the world, and has started a Facebook group for discussion around the history of racism. Rogers says she loves idea sharing and would love to connect with other diverse preschools in Portland, as well as develop a scholarship program for children who want to attend Flouriche but may not be able to afford it.
The Black Resilience Fund
In response to the devastating effects of the pandemic on the Black community, and the most recent deaths in the continuation of horrific, systemic racist violence in the U.S., Portlanders Cameron Whitten and Salomé Chimuku launched the Black Resilience Fund as an opportunity for non-Black allies to support the resilience of Black people in the local community. To date, the fund has received over $400,000, and provided immediate support for Black Portlanders in the form of a warm meal, groceries, and unpaid bills. Chimuku has over a decade of experience in public sector work, working with organizations such as Portland State University, the Urban League of Portland, and Unite Oregon, and Whitten has served as Executive Director of local nonprofits such as Know Your City, Brown Hope, and Q Center. The Black Resilience Fund will become a formal program of Portland-based nonprofit Brown Hope on June 16th.
Donate online: gofundme.com/f/the-black-resilience-fund
Honeybee Lemonade Syrups
Andrea Wade originally served Honeybee Lemonade Syrups with sparkling water from the window of a West African & Caribbean fusion food cart. In 2019, her handmade artisan syrups hit the shelves, free from preservatives, artificial flavors, and sweeteners-- and with a devoted following. With flavors like Mango Coconut Jasmine, Strawberry Raspberry Rhubarb Lime, and Peach Lychee, these shelf-stable syrups are made from whole fruit and can be used to flavor beverages, yogurt, as an ice cream topping, and much more. Wade's 17-year-old daughter helps with the daily operations of the business. When the pandemic hit, the mother-daughter team began offering no-contact door drop delivery and using their creativity to drive sales, much of which plummeted during the pandemic due to the cancellation of many spring and summer vending events. Reflecting on the challenges she experienced in starting her business, Wade shares that, "...there is still a tremendous amount of work to do to dismantle systemic barriers for Black business that often keep us out. It is my hope that we will continue to work in solidarity because Black Businesses Matter!"
This is just a small sample of the many amazing Black-owned businesses and nonprofits in the Portland area. Visit the BlackPDX.com directory for more, where you can search by industry and location. Also check out Support Black-Owned Portland Restaurants, an extensive online directory and annual event.