Listen to this article here
black owned businesses
Waffle That! owner Roy Tillis outside his food truck that started the business. He will soon be operating two brick-and-mortar restaurants in Tulsa. Photo by Valerie Wei-Haas / Tulsa People

The COVID-19 pandemic has a silver lining in Black entrepreneurs, who’ve begun to thrive over the last 18 months. In fact, in 2020 more new Black-owned businesses were started than at any time in the last 25 years, according to the Kauffman Foundation’s annual report of Black-owned businesses.

The increase was greater than that of White-owned businesses or Asian owned businesses during the pandemic. Nearly 400 out of every 100,000 Black citizens started as an entrepreneur during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ironically, the surge came about as more and more people of Color faced uncertainty about maintaining jobs and careers during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, those feelings led many Black entrepreneurs to a “why not” attitude regarding start-ups and other career plans. It also comes after previous reports detailing the tragic decline of businesses owned by Black folks at the start of the pandemic.

Support surges after racial injustice

Black-owned businesses were also bolstered by reactions to explicit and visible social injustices over the last year. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of former police officer Derek Chauvin, citizens patronized Black entrepreneurs as a form of social justice support. 

However, some people criticize shoppers who only support them during certain periods, such as Black History Month, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr holiday, or the weeks after Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict for killing Mr. Floyd. “It needs to become less of a trend and more of a movement to where people are constantly supporting and bridging that wealth gap,” said Larry Morrow, a restaurant owner and events producer. “If we offer that same support daily, I think that the economic cycle could constantly be something within the Black community.”

In 2020, Google searches for “Black-owned businesses” reached an all time high as people sought ways to economically support small local Black-owned businesses, as opposed to large corporate big box stores.

White House joins push to support

Many large conglomerates have gone in on supporting Black-owned businesses as well, with JP Morgan Chase bank providing loans to 15,000 startups from marginalized communities, while Bank of America provided financial assistance. 

The Biden administration has also promised economic support for Black communities. One hallmark of President Biden’s plan for economic recovery across the country is for programming to create opportunities for more Black entrepreneurs. 

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...