Food & Drink

How to Support the Black Community in Detroit Right Now

From nonprofits and community organizations to restaurants and bookstores.

Detroit is still reeling from the coronavirus that has disproportionately affected the Black community and the economic fallout that has cost many their livelihoods. And the events of this week surrounding the outcry for justice for George Floyd have caused even more anguish. If you're feeling helpless right now and unsure of how to do your part, one of the best ways you can help is to support Black-owned businesses in your community that have been impacted by both the pandemic and by the unrest of the past few days. Contributing to any of these nonprofits, community efforts, and local businesses will make an immediate difference. 

Support local nonprofits & community efforts 

The Detroit Justice Center is a nonprofit law firm that works for economic and racial justice. When the pandemic hit, they were among several civil rights organizations to sue the Wayne County Jail demanding the release of inmates in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Now they're working with The Bail Project to bail out protesters. If you know someone who's been arrested, go to this online form. To support their work, go to https://www.detroitjustice.org/donate. They’re also looking for volunteer lawyers to represent protesters.
 
The Detroit Phoenix Center serves primarily Black and Brown youth, who face disparities in the juvenile justice and foster care systems with lack of access to health care and education. The organization provides basic needs and wraparound services to promote equity and justice and end poverty and homelessness in Detroit. Donations help pay for services like transportation, housing, and food.
 
Focus: HOPE was established in 1968, a year after the 1967 rebellion, when Father William T. Cunningham and Eleanor M. Josaitis vowed to unite a community sharply divided along the lines of race and class. Today the organization provides several services, including educating more than 200 children a year in its early education program, providing workforce development, and providing 41,000 low-income seniors with food boxes a month through its food justice program. 
 
We the People of Detroit works to build community coalitions while promoting human rights, youth leadership, racial equality, education, and water justice. They regularly give away bottled water to serve those whose water has been shut off. A $30 donation will cover three days worth of water for a resident.

Support Black-owned restaurants & bars

Coop Caribbean Fusion: In an effort to give back to the community while making sure food didn’t go to waste in the days immediately following the governor’s orders to shut down dine-in services, chef Maxcel Hardy, owner of Coop Caribbean fusion, was among a group of local chefs and restaurateurs of color to join forces on the Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen collaboration spearheaded by publicist David Rudolph. The chefs cooked for people experiencing homelessness as well as at-risk girls. 

Norma G’s: This eastside eatery has been busy the past few weeks between curbside delivery and catering meals through the Pay It Forward initiative, which crowdfunded more than $50,000 to employ chefs of color to provide meals for 100 homeless Detroiters sheltering at Neighborhood Service Organization. 

Flood’s Bar and Grille: Founded more than 30 years ago by the Byrd family, this legendary downtown spot famous for its lamb chops and live music reopened in late May for carryout and delivery. The family of restaurateurs also helped feed essential workers on the frontlines and people experiencing homelessness through the Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen for Good culinary collaborative effort.

Good Cakes and Bakes: Located on the Avenue of Fashion, this organic bakery specializing in vegan and gluten-free sweet treats is open from Thursday-Saturday for pickup or delivery and will only be offering those services for now even though restaurants are allowed to reopen in a precautionary measure to keep customers safe.

Ima: The growing noodle empire (it has locations in Corktown and Midtown and one in Madison Heights) is open for carryout and delivery. It’s also been heavily involved in efforts to feed medical workers, bringing bowls of golden curry and noodles to local hospitals. Other than getting your ramen fix, you can help support by donating to the restaurant’s relief fund to help employees affected by layoffs.

Ivy’s Kitchen and Cocktails: This east-side restaurant wasn’t open for even three months until the coronavirus shut it down. Owner Nya Marshall quickly adapted to carryout only and also got involved in giving back through the city’s Feed the Frontlines program as well as the Pay It Forward initiative. 

Kuzzo’s: The fried chicken & waffles hotspot had closed down for renovations and reopened at an inopportune time: two days before the governor’s order to halt dine-in services at restaurants. Owner Ron Bartell pressed on, first by pitching in on the Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen for Good initiative and then adapting to provide curbside carryout and delivery. 

Sweet Potato Sensations: This multigenerational beloved bakery is open for carryout and delivery of its famous sweet potato pies, cookies, and savory menu of turkey chop sandwiches and catfish and grits. To show your support, you can also buy an e-gift card to brighten someone’s day. 

Table No. 2: After battling construction on Livernois and adapting to a delivery model to stay afloat during the pandemic, chef Omar Mitchell is facing his newest challenge: finding a new home after being his lease wasn't renewed for the Avenue of Fashion space. He's crowdfunding to cover costs for a new location
 
Yum Village: Godwin Ihentuge was one of the founders of the Pay it Forward initiative and the Afro-Caribbean restaurants was one of the participating businesses in the city of Detroit’s Feed the Frontlines program to provide meals for essential workers. He also reinvented Yum Village by creating a market pantry for people to buy groceries like fruits, vegetables, and even aloe vera.

Support Black-owned bookstores and retailers

Ilera Apothecary: Throughout the month of June, the all-natural skincare brand is donating all proceeds to the Black Lives Matter movement. If you donate to the cause, you can send them your receipt for a gift card. Chinonye Akunne, co-founder and CEO, said in a video posted on the website, “As a Black-owned company we have had our own fair share of abuse, verbal abuse, we have been blackballed a few times, we know exactly how these protesters feel and we are here to show our solidarity with everyone who is standing up against racism.”

KAN Books: Jamii Tata, owner of the North End co-op bookstore, says the store has been closed for the past several weeks and hasn’t brought in any revenue. Before the pandemic, he was also planning to build a literary hub for youth in the neighborhood but now both spaces may be at risk. “Don’t forget about us. Some of our brick & mortars may be closed but the people, products and services are very much in motion. This is a perfect time to find and support new Black businesses you have never shopped with and sustain ones you have shopped with before. When you shop at a Black business you are investing in community,” he says. 
 
Norwest Gallery of Art: This North Rosedale Park creative hub for contemporary African and African American art has been closed since March 15. “As a community event space and museum art sales is not our bread and butter,” says owner Asia Hamilton. “We haven’t made any revenue since we closed. On a personal note I lost my mother due to coronavirus and was also nursing myself back to health which made it even more difficult to generate income.” You can donate on her GoFundMe campaign. We are currently raising $25,000 to help the gallery pay for overhead cost and staffing till the end of the year. We’ve raised $11,000 so far which is awesome! But we still have a ways to go.” 
 
Source Booksellers: Celebrating its 30th year anniversary last fall, this Midtown independent bookstore has weathered many storms and has figured out how to survive during the pandemic. Owner Janet Webster worked for 40 years in the Detroit Public Schools district before getting into the bookselling business. She first opened Source Booksellers inside Spiral Collective, a shared space with three other women-owned Black businesses before she moved across the street in 2013 to the store’s current home in the Auburn Building. 

Three Thirteen: Located on the Avenue of Fashion, this popular streetwear shop quickly pivoted to online sales in response to the pandemic and now offers curbside pickup for its signature tees, hoodies, and accessories. Founder Clement “Fame” Brown trademarked the namesake clothing brand Three Thirteen in 2009, and the store features Brown’s line as well as other local brands such as Detroit Hustles Harder and Detroit Vs. Everybody.  

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Dorothy Hernandez is a contributor for Thrillist.