People Are Calling On Stores Like Target And Whole Foods To Take The 15 Percent Pledge

Kristin Salaky
Photo credit: Smith Collection/Gado - Getty Images
Photo credit: Smith Collection/Gado - Getty Images

From Women's Health

The internet is full of ways to support black-owned businesses, but when visiting your favorite major retailer, it can get a lot tougher to find their products. A new campaign is calling on stores to make space for more of these businesses in something called the 15 Percent Pledge.

The campaign was created by Aurora James, a fashion designer and founder of the label Brother Vellies, and she is calling on major retailers like Target, Whole Foods, and Sephora to take the pledge. The campaign gets its name, as The Takeout pointed out, because 15 percent of Americans are black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Retailers who take the pledge would be promising 15 percent of their shelf space to black-owned businesses, which would make their stores' space at least proportional to the U.S. population. This would not only help to create more equity in the products consumers purchase, but it would also help put $14.5 billion back into black communities, according to the site.

Related: Costco Plans to Roll Out Free Samples in Stores Again

This campaign is obviously always important, but as the site notes, is particularly so now because black-owned businesses are suffering amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a graphic on the site, created by @monachalabi, 21 percent of black-owned businesses say they don't think they'll survive the pandemic and 40 percent of black-owned businesses have been forced to close during the outbreak. In addition, black-owned businesses have seemingly been shut out of coronavirus relief efforts.

In an Instagram post, Aurora explained her mission and why this is a chance for companies to make a real and positive change toward diversifying the brands they have in stores and combatting systemic racism that keeps them from landing these placements.

View this post on Instagram

@wholefoods @target @shopmedmen @walmart @saks @sephora @netaporter @barnesandnoble @homedepot I am asking you to commit to buying 15% of your products from Black owned businesses. . So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power. So many of your stores are set up in Black communities. So many of your sponsored posts are seen on Black feeds. This is the least you can do for us. We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space. . Whole Foods if you were to sign on to this pledge, it could immediately drive much needed support to Black farmers. Banks will be forced to take them seriously because they will be walking in with major purchase orders from Whole Foods. Investors for the very first time will start actively seeking them out. Small businesses can turn into bigger ones. Real investment will start happening in Black businesses which will subsequently be paid forward into our Black communities. . Dont get me wrong, I understand the complexities of this request. I am a business Woman. I have sold millions of dollars of product over the years at a business I started with $3500 at a flea market. So I am telling you we can get this figured out. This is an opportunity. It is your opportunity to get in the right side of this. . So for all of the ‘what can we do to help?’ questions out there, this is my personal answer. #15PercentPledge . I will get texts that this is crazy. I will get phone calls that this is too direct, too big of an ask, too this, too that. But I don’t think it’s too anything, in fact I think it’s just a start. You want to be an ally? This is what I’m asking for.

A post shared by Aurora James 🦢 (@aurorajames) on May 29, 2020 at 5:46pm PDT

"Don't get me wrong, I understand the complexities of this request. I am a business Woman," she wrote: "I have sold millions of dollars of product over the years at a business I started with $3500 at a flea market. So I am telling you we can get this figured out. This is an opportunity. It is your opportunity to get in the right side of this."

You can sign the petition here.

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