Food & Drink

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

From nonprofits and community organizations to restaurants and bookstores.

The events of the past weekend have left many at a loss for words. People are feeling helpless and unsure of how to support local communities like Minneapolis that have been directly affected by the events surrounding the peaceful protests over the murder of George Floyd while in police custody. 

The Twin Cities are heartbroken over the death of Mr. Floyd. Property can be rebuilt and replaced, but lives cannot. Nonetheless, many businesses have suffered damage throughout the unrest surrounding the largely peaceful protests. Right now, one of the ways you can help is to support Black-owned businesses in the Twin Cities that have been affected by both the pandemic and by the unrest of the last week. From nonprofits and community efforts to donating to local businesses, here are some of the ways you can safely make a difference right now. 

Support local nonprofits & community efforts

The Minnesota Freedom Fund has done a ton of great work but has also been the focus of national attention and donations. They’re asking would-be donors to instead give to organizations that have an “urgent need for supplies and support out in the field.” Some of the organizations it has highlighted include the Black Visions Collective, Reclaim the Block, and the North Star Health Collective

Lake Street from the Lake Street/Marshall Avenue bridge to Uptown sustained a lot of damage. That makes the Lake Street Council’s fundraiser a great place to donate. It's aiding businesses, many of which are Black- and immigrant-owned, up and down the street. However, the Lake Street Council has had a lot of success raising funds so far, possibly in part because it was one of the first places in the city to hit national television during the protests against police brutality. 

The need may be greater in neighborhoods that haven’t received the same amount of attention. North Minneapolis has many Black-owned businesses in need of assistance. The Northside Funders Group is taking donations to rebuild in the community. Executive Director Sarah Clyne tells Thrillist that 100% of donations are going to the community, and none are being kept for administrative fees. To distribute the money, they’re working with the Black-led West Broadway Business and Area Coalition, which is also accepting direct donations. 

Another hard-hit area is the greater Midway area in St. Paul. The Neighbors United Funding Collaborative is raising money to build up the businesses that need assistance in the Midway and Union Park. 

Donate to restaurants & bars

There are few places in Minnesota like the Midtown Global Market, which houses 45 small businesses, many of which are Black-owned. (Officially, those businesses represent “16 cultures, ethnicities, or countries of origin.”) It’s been a springboard for many wonderful restaurants throughout the city, and it was damaged during protests. Donating here is a great way to have your money support many businesses and communities at once. 

Similarly, your donation can help many businesses through the owner of the Jigjiga Business Center on East Lake Street. Mowlid Jigre, son of the Center's owner, has started a fund to help the building, its tenants, and Somali-owned businesses across the city that have been impacted by the events of the last week. Despite the destruction of the Center, Jigre maintained a positive outlook on the community. "At first, it was very sad," he tells Thrillist. "It felt like people were taking advantage of what happened to George Floyd. We had a lot of mixed emotions. When we came in the next day [after the building was looted] we had 30-40 people here cleaning glass, sweeping, mopping... just the whole community was here without us even asking." Now, he's giving back to the community. 

There are also plenty of individual businesses that could use your support. In addition to making heavenly jerk chicken, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen has been a shining example of the strength of the community. As the Southwest Journal put it, the restaurant and rum bar has reinvented itself as a relief organization providing strength to the community. “Due to an abundance of blessings in the form of donations from our community PJK will be closed for restaurant service,” Pimento wrote on Facebook. “No Jerk chicken or rum punch today, but come get your milk and diapers!” It has been taken supply donations but it’s also running a Go Fund Me that’s temporarily down. For the time being, it’s taking donations via the @pimentokitchen Venmo account.

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 its Go Fund Me page. “Much is lost.” 

Fortunately, the distillery feels that insurance and a “tidal wave of love and support” will help it recover. Nonetheless, its Go Fund Me page remains up to help its recovery as well as the recovery of other Black-owned businesses in the area of the third precinct. “Du Nord is establishing this fund to support black and brown companies affected by the riots,” it wrote.

In St. Paul, Bolé Ethiopian Cuisine and Bolé Express, which was slated to open May 31, 2020, were both burned to the ground. The community wanted to support the restaurant and the family behind it, and established a fund to help them rebuild. “From the start, Bolé was a community-driven business, this misfortune has taught all of us that community is what we all have when everything else is stripped away,” they wrote on the donation page.

E&L Supermarket and Deli on Lowery sustained a lot of damage as well, with shattered windows and stolen merchandise. Its role in the community is crucial right now as many people have had sources of groceries and other goods taken away. 

Scores Sports Bar isn’t a business that will ring a bell for most people. The bar, owned by local firefighter KB Balla, was set to open in spring 2020 but had the opening date pushed back by the pandemic. Now it faces another setback, as the space was destroyed the night of May 27. Abi’s Cafe is another spot raising funds to recover. It has a modest goal and a donation could make a big impact. 

Not all the businesses taking donations have been damaged directly, but are supporting the community through their restaurant. In the case of Soul Bowl, this kind of communal support isn’t new, but it is nonetheless important. It’s providing free meals for anyone who needs them. If you give $10, you’re giving a meal to a family. Donations are being taken through Venmo (@soulbowlmn) and the Cash App ($soulbowlmn). 

Contribute to local businesses 

Fade Factory barbershop was a hub for the community on the northside, and it had already been hit hard by the closure of the business due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many other salons and barbershops, it sustained damage over the last week. Over near LynLake, The SuiteSpot salon is looking to raise funds to get back somewhere near where it was before the events of the last week. The story is similar at Cutz Too Barbershop, Sunny’s Hair and Wigs (Venmo @sunnykiriyama), and Optimism Integrity and Contentment, the “small, Black-owned business which aimed to serve beauty products, gift items, and holiday decor to the community of Minneapolis.” 

There are many essential businesses in the city that need assistance, such as Ayeeyo Childcare Center and City Market, which have a joint fundraising page. 

Nancy Korsah, co-founder of Black Business Enterprises, is running a Go Fund Me campaign to help many Black-owned businesses, including Bougies Boutique, New Rules co-working space, Levels Clothing, and Heavy Headz Footwear.

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.

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