Food & Drink

How to Support the Black Community in Los Angeles

From nonprofits and community organizations to restaurants and bookstores.

Trap Kitchen L.A.
Malachi “Spank” Jenkins | Trap Kitchen L.A.
Malachi “Spank” Jenkins | Trap Kitchen L.A.

Los Angeles is a city that shows up. The events of this past weekend may have left many at a loss of words, but the people of Los Angeles -- time and time again -- come together, to protest blatant injustices, and rightfully disavow police brutality. If you’re struggling to find ways to continue the conversation and put action to your words, frustrations, and hopes, here are some suggestions on helping Los Angeles-based black-led organizations and black-owned businesses.

Donate to Local Nonprofits and Community Efforts

Donating is one of the simplest forms of action you can offer to show support. You can directly support Black Lives Matter LA, the first chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement. But beyond this current moment, the Watts Labor Community Action Committee is a non-profit and cultural institution looking to banish poverty in South LA by providing access for the community and helping families and seniors. This community-led non-profit has been doing the work for over 50 years and making strides to create a more equitable LA where everyone is provided for. There’s also 100 Black Men of Los Angeles, a civic-focused non-profit that provides mentorship, education, and entrepreneurial training to instill confidence and leadership opportunities for Black youth in Los Angeles.

Order takeout, buy gift cards, and donate to Black-owned restaurants & bars 

The restaurant industry has been hit hard by the shutdowns following COVID-19 and with limited governmental support, these businesses -- places of community and comfort -- need our help more than ever. 

Sip & Sonder, an Inglewood-based coffee shop, has a Gofundme set up in order to provide coffee for healthcare workers on the front lines -- though you can also donate to the shop directly. Also in Inglewood is The Serving Spoon, a legendary diner that’s been feeding the community for over 36 years and currently providing a “pay-it-forward” program for hungry people in need following the economic devastation of COVID-19. 

In Compton, there’s Trap Kitchen: a chef duo consisting of Roberto “News” Smith and Malachi “Spank” Jenkins providing food, like crab legs, oxtail stew, and cornish game hens, via Instagram. “A lot of people don’t have the luxury of being able to try that stuff at a steakhouse, Jenkins told Thrillist in 2017, “so my idea was to create the surf and turf and make it affordable in the streets, so everybody can have that dining experience.” Trap Kitchen is serving meals for front-line medical workers, and you can support them by buying their cookbook here.

Downtown LA’s Poppy + Rose, which usually sports a long line of eager eaters awaiting flaky and life-changing biscuits, is accepting online orders and take out at this time while also offering gift cards, T-shirts, and pint glasses through their online shop. Kwini Reed, co-owner of Poppy + Rose, shared with Thrillist that one of the most important steps in helping the Black community is “breaking your silence regarding the social injustice in this country.” Additionally, she recommends organizing in your community to help black businesses, donating -- whether it’s time, money, goods, or services -- to the cause, and voting for people who “not back not only black initiatives, but initiatives which help minorities.”

Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen, which has locations in Inglewood and View Park (with an Eagle Rock brick and mortar coming soon), has gift cards you can purchase online. "While many people of all races are feeling helpless right now in the fight to equality, we’re also getting smarter and more united. We’re seeing that people are showing solidarity with the black community by regularly patronizing businesses like ours and sharing on social media when they do," Hilltop's co-owner, Yonnie Hagos, told Thrillist. "Although it seems like small act, it really does create an impact. Recently, someone bought a $100 gift card -- which can be purchased in-store or online -- and gave it back to us so that we could offer free coffee for patrons until it ran out. That sort of gesture helps us to stay in business and remind someone that there is some good still in the world... At the end of the day, these issues we are facing right now are not just black issues, they are humanity issues." Additionally, the roasters are still serving coffee, breakfast, and lunch for pick-up.

Over in Culver City, Honey’s Kettle has some of the best fried chicken in LA and is still accepting orders (you can also pick up their biscuit and pancake mix to make at home). Meals by Genet off Fairfax in Little Ethiopia has stunning Ethiopian food. You can buy chocolates, champagne, cheese, and all kinds of other pantry essentials from Say Cheese in Silver Lake or online.

Patronize local Black-owned businesses 

Start by shopping at Eso Won Books, an independently owned bookstore in Leimert Park, where you can purchase reading materials online. Shades of Afrika, which has locations in Long Beach and Corona, provides holistic herbs, essential oils, natural hair care products, in addition to educational books.

For more reading, CRWNMAG is a thoughtfully-crafted magazine produced quarterly and centered around Black women and their experiences. It’s approximately 130 pages of art, story-telling, and beautifully produced imagery made by Black women for Black women. 

If you’re looking for apparel, Laced is a Black-owned business in the South Bay that sells sneakers and streetwear.

Melanin Market LA connects with Black business owners and vendors and produces events in which entrepreneurs can showcase and sell their products and services. As many small business owners continue to struggle in the COVID-19 crisis, Melanin Market LA is selling merchandise and donating profits to businesses within the community that need help.

More ways to help?

Check out a list of national organizations we've compiled here. If you have thoughts on other businesses you'd like to see included in our local stories, please email feedback@thrillist.com.

Kat Thompson is an LA native and a staff writer for Thrillist.