Food & Drink

How to Support the Black Community in New York City

From nonprofits and community organizations to restaurants and bookstores.

The events of the past week have left many of us at a loss for words. The grief America is feeling for George Floyd and the systemic injustices that have been part of our nation’s history has made support for Black Americans and Black communities more important than ever. And like so much of the country, it’s on the forefront of our hearts and minds here at Thrillist.
 
Right now, one of the ways you can help to support Black-owned businesses and organizations in New York is by donating to nonprofits and community efforts alike, and by also patronizing local establishments.

“Black communities need New Yorkers' support,” says chef Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster in Harlem. “One important way is to seek out and frequent Black-owned businesses,” and not just for right now, but for the weeks, months, and years to come.

Here are some of the ways you can make a difference.

Donate to nonprofits and community efforts

Opening your wallet to a nonprofit shows your support for a specific community effort. Knowing that your funds are going directly to an organization and its beneficiaries who have united in civic engagement for a common cause honors the institution and the system that allows for its success.

With over 60 branches in 28 states, the Manhattan chapter of The National Coalition of 100 Black Women was founded in New York in 1970 and advocates on behalf of women of color through strategic alliances that promote leadership development and gender equity in health, education and economic development. The 100 Black Men of New York was founded in 1963 also in New York and by distinguishing leaders such as the first Black mayor of New York, David Dinkins, and the first African-American man to play in Major League Baseball, Jackie Robinson.

If your focus is more on the arts, the Dance Theatre of Harlem could use your support after having to cancel its season due to COVID-19. Urban Word NYC is at the forefront of literary art for youth and is focused on cultivating the next generation of writers, and The Black Artists + Designers Guild combats the lack of representation of black talent and culture in design.

Black Girls Code empowers girls ages 7-17 to become future leaders in computer science and technology, The Audre Lorde Project supports LGBTQ and gender non-conforming people of color, Fierce NYC builds leadership for LGTBQ youth of color. The NAACP has many local branches to support as well, and Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network has served almost half a million meals to date during COVID-19.

Order takeout and delivery and contribute to restaurant staff GoFundMes

At the onset of COVID-19, New York’s culinary scene was one of the first industries to be hit hard after bars and restaurants were forced to close. But from pizza places and burger joints, many restaurants have shifted to offering takeout and delivery -- and this includes spots in Harlem and at places such as Harlem Hops.

For Harlem Hops, the only black-owned craft beer bar in Manhattan, having customers place orders not only helps to sustain the business, but also continue charitable endeavors with Harlem Hopes Inc., their nonprofit which aids in providing college scholarships to native Harlem residents.

“The support of our community is a tremendous blessing,” says Kim Harris, one of Harlem Hops’ owners. “It enables us to continue to source from other Black-owned businesses and through our foundation Harlem Hopes, we support the growth of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and mentor students, showing them how they can find their own success.”

Black-owned restaurants all over the city are also open for business with philanthropic initiatives like The Bergen in Crown Heights serving families in need, FIELDTRIP in Harlem also donating community meals, and Millie Peartree Catering of the Bronx and Grandchamps of Bed-Stuy accepting donations to serve frontline workers at hospitals. And for restaurants like Red Rooster in Harlem, they’ve pivoted entirely to become a dedicated community kitchen in partnership with José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen.

If you’d like to directly support the staff of bars and restaurants, Le Paris Dakar, Ode to Babel and their sister bar Good Life BK, and Melba’s are just a few places with campaigns like GoFundMe already set up.

But if you’re looking to support Black-owned restaurants through your stomach and are hungry for a great meal, order from the American ham, cheese, and provisions shop & Sons Buttery in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Guyanese and West Indian spot Melanie’s Roti of the Bronx, and Caribbean eatery Dunn’s River of Queens. For a more extensive list of Black-owned restaurants to support, download the app, EatOkra.

Patronize local Black-owned businesses 

With resources like Black-Owned Brooklyn and Shoppe Black, finding a local bookstore, shop, and business for some retail therapy is good for both the community and the entrepreneurs who are building their empires with your every transaction.

For House of Nambili, what started as a pop-up at the music festival AfroPunk has grown into a business with products made of textiles from Northwest Africa and beyond, including face masks. Made in Brooklyn, HON’s colorful and creative face masks are a way to be both safe and stylish during the COVID-19 pandemic. At Crown Inspired, their handmade creations and unique designs include an array of gorgeous face masks as well, with 25% of purchases being donated to the Feeding America Foundation.

When it comes to finding a good book, Sister’s Uptown Bookstore, the only Black-owned bookstore in Manhattan, has become a Washington Heights staple and offers domestic shipping and at-door pickup. For The Lit Bar in the Bronx, bibliophiles can show their support during COVID-19 by making purchases through the online book store or catalog of audiobooks. And while Cafe Con Libros, a feminist bookstore and coffee shop in Crown Heights, is closed as we all social distance, you can show your love by downloading their podcast or donating to their PayPal account.

To exercise more of your spending power and bring more joy into your life, order flowers from Les’ Bloom of Brooklyn, poetic greeting cards from Adeyemi Artistry, art from Richard Beavers Gallery, frozen treats from Island Pops, or a face mask from a barbershop that caters especially to LGBTQ clients, Camera Ready Kutz, to help the shop get back on its feet when they eventually re-open.

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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Tae Yoon was born and raised in Queens, and is the Editor of Thrillist New York.