MILWAUKEE — Shopping at a Black-owned business affects more than just the store itself, some are saying.
"I think it's also important we build economic power because it's the economic power that's going to be the foundation for our political power. Again, if we want thriving communities, if we want safe neighborhoods, if we want people to have living wage jobs and things like that, everybody has to support black-owned businesses right now because when it's not done intentional (sic), it's left out unintentionally," Rick Banks, the co-founder of MKE Black said.
MKE Black is a non-profit organization that promotes and connects people with Black-owned businesses, services, and resources in Milwaukee. Banks said shopping at a Black-owned restaurant stimulates the entire neighborhood's economy. More so, it allows for people who may never interact to engage in a conversation.
Powerful and emotional words from Bennie Smith the owner of Daddy's Soul Food and Grill. He has been giving police officers 50% off their meals for years to invite them in so cops and customers can interact and have meaningful discussions. He says that's even more important now. pic.twitter.com/wdlzwnOqaS— James Groh (@JamesGroh_) June 15, 2020
That's exactly what has happened at Daddy's Soul Food and Grille on 27th Street in Milwaukee.
"It allowed people to come in, ‘oh this is my first time’ and we’ve been open five years. A little over five years, and this is their first time here just because of his initiative," Bennie Smith, the owner of Daddy's Soul Food and Grille said.
He said this is especially true for his customer's interactions with police. Daddy's Soul Food and Grille offers cops 50 percent off their meal. This is to encourage law enforcement to eat at Smith's restaurant and subsequently engage in dialogue with the customers in a neutral environment.
Rick Banks co-founded MKE Black, a website that promotes and helps connect people with Black-owned businesses. This is why he said it's more important than ever to shop at Black-owned stores. pic.twitter.com/cdL7Nel7Ej— James Groh (@JamesGroh_) June 15, 2020
"And it worked. People were coming in talking to the police. Asking questions with the police and trying to bridge that gap that we were missing from the police officers," Smith said.
By putting people who might not normally talk to each other in the same room there's a chance a conversation will be brought up that will have a lasting impact on each person.
Both Smith and Banks said that open and difficult conversations are necessary right now as Black Lives Matter protests continue around Wisconsin and the rest of the country.
Shopping at Black-owned businesses serves another purpose as well. It allows those who are unable to go to a protest and want to contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement a means to do so.
"Giving other people an avenue. If they, you know, aren’t the people to march in the streets, order something online. Support a Black-owned business," he said.
For more information about Black-owned businesses in Milwaukee go to MKE Black's website.