How to Support the Black Community in the Twin Cities Right Now

From supporting local orgs to Black-owned businesses.

Between the murders of unarmed Black men George Floyd and Daunte Wright, Sr. and Derek Chauvin's ongoing trial, the events of the past year, the past month, and even the past few days have left many at a loss for words. And while folks all over the world have voiced an interest in supporting those most affected during these tragic and complicated times, it can be difficult to know where to start, especially if you find yourself far from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

The Twin Cities are heartbroken over the death of Mr. Floyd, Mr. Wright, and every other victim of racially motivated violence throughout the region and the country. And while many businesses and residents have suffered property damage throughout the enduring unrest, it’s important to remember that structures can be rebuilt and replaced, but lives cannot. Right now, one of the most impactful ways you can do your part is to support BIPOC-focused outreach organizations, Black-owned businesses, BIPOC creatives, and other local forces for change, today and for many years to come. From nonprofits and community efforts to social justice-minded restaurants, artists, and shops, here are some of the ways you can safely make a difference right now. 

Drop some dollars at Black-owned businesses

There are few places in Minnesota like the Midtown Global Market, home to 45 small businesses, many of which are Black-owned. The market has acted as a springboard for many wonderful shops and restaurants throughout the city and continues to foster economic growth among its merchants while incorporating COVID-19 safety measures. Spending an afternoon perusing the wares inside this vibrant outpost is an indisputably fun way to support Minneapolis’ Black community and for those unable to make the trip, online donations are also welcomed.

There are also plenty of individually-owned businesses that could use your support. In addition to making heavenly jerk chicken, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen has long been a shining example of the strength of the community. Last summer, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, the Southwest Journal reported that the beloved restaurant and rum bar reinvented itself as a relief organization: “Due to an abundance of blessings in the form of donations from our community PJK will be closed for restaurant service,” Pimento posted to Facebook in late May, 2020. “No Jerk chicken or rum punch today, but come get your milk and diapers!” While they’ve fully resumed restaurant operations, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen remains very politically invested via its nonprofit arm, Pimento Relief Service, a self-described “hub that is actively rebuilding and reimagining a world where a Black economy flourishes, reparations and healing are a community priority, and Black individuals are protected and represented in our political system.” Throw some money to the foundation, then treat yourself to a heap of slow-roasted jerk pork or tender bone-in curry goat by making a reservation for indoor dining or placing an order for pick-up or delivery. 

Du Nord Craft Spirits, the first Black-owned micro-distillery in the United States, was hit hard during the protests against police brutality. “Following the beautiful peaceful protests, riots overtook the city and the Lake Street Corridor: a beacon for multiculturalism, black and brown entrepreneurship and the rise of family-owned businesses,” the Du Nord team wrote on the GoFundMe page they established last summer. “Much is lost.” 

Fortunately, the distillery has raised upwards of $785,000 of its $1,000,000 goal and donations keep filtering in from generous well-wishers around the globe. The page is still active, with proceeds going toward Du Nord’s continued rebuilding as well as the recovery of other Black-owned businesses in the area of the third precinct. Another great way to pitch in? Track down a bottle or three of delicious gin, vodka, blended whiskey, or flavored liqueur at a liquor store, bar, or restaurant near you.

While they weren’t directly affected by the rebellion, Black-owned smash hit Soul Bowl is also doing its part to keep the local community afloat by providing free meals for anyone who needs them via their Food For Your Soul program. For every $10 raised, a family experiencing hunger receives a nutritious (and delicious) meal on the house. Donations are being taken through Venmo (@soulbowlmn) and Cash App ($soulbowlmn). 

And that’s barely scratching the surface when it comes to amazing Black-owned businesses across the Twin Cities. For a more complete list, check out Meet Minneapolis’ comprehensive collection spanning everything from clothing boutiques and comic book shops to florists, sneaker stores, and more.

Contribute to local nonprofits & community efforts

The Minnesota Freedom Fund has done a ton of great legal work and has long been the focus of national attention and widespread donations. And while you can undoubtedly opt to help fund their battle against “discriminatory, intimidating, and oppressive money bail,” they’ve also begun directing interested givers to fellow organizations they describe as “on the front lines of this fight.” The righteous and oh-so-worthy causes they’re spotlighting include Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, Racial Justice Network, Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB), NAACP MPLS, CAIR-Minnesota (CAIR-MN), and the Black Immigrant Collective.

Neighborhood groups, especially those focused on economic empowerment and advocacy, are a vital resource for Black-owned businesses all over the Twin Cities. Up on the Northside, West Broadway Business and Area Coalition and Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON) are two prime examples. In addition to other crucial programming addressing the needs of local businesses, these organizations have teamed up to host virtual (for the time being) luncheons every third Thursday where they invite community members to come together and discuss a different issue each month. Check out their websites for upcoming event details as well as ways to get involved via donations as well as in-person and online volunteer opportunities.

As commercial districts throughout the cities scramble to both support and survive the political action going on all around them, clean up and preservation efforts continue to proliferate and many are looking for helpful volunteers to pitch in and get the job done, both in-person and virtually in the form of donations. Construction Connection to Community, a “force multiplier” that draws on local construction workers and other skilled laborers to assist historically marginalized communities, posted a recent call-out in preparation for “the potential of civil unrest related to the Chauvin trial verdict and the killing of Daunte Wright.” They’re requesting help with a variety of initiatives including handing out flyers and counting affected businesses along preassigned routes and boarding up businesses that request aid alongside trained contractors. Head to their website to learn more and register.

On a more personal note, the family of Daunte Wright, Sr. has launched a GoFundMe campaign with proceeds going to benefit the Wrights in their fight for justice. They’re aiming to raise $1,000,000 and contributions have been pouring from around the world. Chip in your two cents here and if you’re unable to give financially, the GoFundMe page also lists a mailing address where folks can send cards and other “letters of encouragement.”

Elsewhere in Brooklyn Center, the site of Daunte Wright, Sr.’s recent murder, several additional GoFundMe pages have popped up aiming to raise cash for people affected by the traumatic incident and subsequent uprising. From support for community schools and mutual aid funds to emergency housing efforts for local residents and a teen-run initiative to rebuild small businesses damaged in the rebellion, a plethora of worthy causes lie just a few clicks away.

Honor Black voices through art, history, and culture

From waves of Somali refugees to families who landed in the Twin Cities during the Great Migration, the local Black community represents a vast array of backgrounds, lineages, and experiences. And there’s no better way to foster community and shared understanding than through education and cultural immersion. Take a step back in history at any one of Minneapolis’ many landmarks, historic churches, and museums, each designed to celebrate the Black community’s many accomplishments while also calling attention to the grave legacy of structural inequality. Check out Meet Minneapolis for a list of sites, including noteworthy stops like Minnesota’s first Black church, Dred Scott’s one-time home, the legendary Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery, and the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder Building, home to the state’s first family owned African-American newspaper and oldest Black-owned business.

It’s no secret that the Twin Cities has been a hub for creative movers and shakers for centuries. Give the area’s Black makers their due props by supporting local BIPOC-focused visual and performing art organizations like Black Table Arts, the Black Midwest Initiative, the Cedar Cultural Center’s Artist Collective, Alanna Morris-Van Tassel Productions, Arts-US, Black Storytellers Alliance, Black Women Speak, BLAQ, Catalyst Arts, Dark Muse Performing Arts, the Givens Foundation For African American Literature, In Black Ink, Maia Maiden Productions, and Juxtaposition Arts in North Minneapolis, alongside a diverse roster of individual galleries, studios, producers, and exhibition spaces.

More ways to help?

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

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.