POC Shopping Guide

By Erin O.


Wrapped gifts with wrapping paper featuring African American/Black children, everything featured in the picture was purchased from Black-owned businesses online and locally. photo by Erin O.

It is the season where we do some holiday shopping. Spending our money in poc owned businesses is one tangible way of investing in people and communities of color.

Give the Gift of Experiences

I’m a big fan of giving experiences, less trash-and-waste, and sometimes you learn a new skill or build a new relationship. If you want to go this route here are a few suggestions:

  • Gift certificates for poc owned restaurants and cafes. You can extend it a bit further by inviting out a friend to join you for a meal or coffee. Check out the Equity Matter’s POC map for suggestions of places to visit; it is an open-source map so please add/edit to keep it as useful as possible.
  • POC art and language experiences – Find a poc artist and see if they offer workshops, such as dance or music workshops, other types of art such as ikebana, language classes, writing classes, cooking classes, etc. Make sure you are choosing experiences taught and owned by people of color and they are culturally appropriate to share with outsiders. Don’t practice cultural appropriation.
  • Cultural centers and museums – Memberships and guest passes to African American/Black, Asian and Pacific Islander, Native American, and Latinx cultural centers and museums are an investment in the community and an educational experience for your family or friends. I’ll be buying a few memberships to the NW African American Museum in Seattle for a few people.
  • If you are in the Seattle region here are a few places to check out:
    • Cooking classes at El Centro de la Raza – learn how to make tamales and other delicious Mexican food. Bonus: If you haven’t picked up a Christmas tree yet, you can buy one at El Centro. The proceeds support their programs.
    • Emerald City Fired Arts— It is a great family activity where you can choose a piece of pottery to paint and have fired. The prices are reasonable and some of the pieces are giftable – plates, mugs, ornaments. My kid saved her allowance to paint a sizable Pegasus which now sits in her room.
    • Olympus Spa is a Korean owned women’s spa. Buy someone you like the gift of baby smooth skin with a Korean scrub.
    • Check out a theatre show written by an artist of color. One to check out in 2019 is Susan Lieu’s 140 lbs How Beauty Killed My Mother. I saw her earlier show and still think about it. The show explores family, concepts of beauty, and the immigrant experience. Here are seven Black playwrights to follow.
    • Columbia City Fitness offers punchcards, a great gift for someone or yourself, just make sure to pace how often you go so you don’t have to cram all of the gym visits into a one week period (#ItHappened).


Eighth Generation is a Native-owned gift store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

For the coffee drinkers in your life, Mount Tahoma Coffee is a Black-owned roastery. Their coffee beans can be ordered online.

If you are in Honolulu, Hawaii, stop by Nisshodo candy to pickup some delicious mochi. You can also get your New Year’s mochi here too.

Make sure to invest in #BuyDisabled. @Imani_Barbarin started a thread on Twitter where disabled people could mention their businesses. Check it out and do some shopping here (year-round). With a little hunting, you can find business owners of color on the thread.

Gift of Time

Give the gift of time to another: Volunteer with a poc led and embedded organization. When I say volunteer I mean really volunteer – do what they ask and need, stay for the long-haul, build relationships, and go in humbly. Volunteering isn’t about you, it is about being of service to others. If you are interested in support kids of color find a public school and work to support their achievement gap closing efforts. If the school is in a predominantly white neighborhood then ask specifically to work with students of color at the school, or find a school in another neighborhood with more students of color and volunteer there.

Give the gift of time to yourself by watching a movie, TV show, podcast, or better live theatre by an artist of color.

Books and Magazines

Mahogany Books in Washington DC is a Black-owned bookstore. I ordered holiday gifts through their website, it was just as easy as ordering from that other large retailer named after a river in South America — I’d rather give my money to Mahogany Books.

Birchbark Books is a Native-owned bookstore.

Out Magazine appointed Black transgender activist and journalist Raquel Willis as their executive editor.

Book Recommendations by members of the Fakequity Team:

  • Erin: The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker
  • Jondou: The Color of After by Emily Pan

Here is a crowdsourced list of books by authors of color read in 2018, in random order. I haven’t read most of these, but sharing since diverse interest deserve a diverse list.

  • Becoming by Michelle Obama (Mahogany Books, is a great place to order this from if you want to own a copy – support a Black-owned company)
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • Like a Mother by Angela Garbes
  • We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.: Essays by Samantha Irby – a friend said she read this on a plane and laughed so hard it sounded like she was choking worrying her seatmates
  • Awakening Together by Larry Yang
  • The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui – After I published last week’s Fakequity post about Asian American womxn a colleague-friend walked into the office and said: “Great post, but you forgot Thi Bui!” All I could say is “you’re right, remind me next year when we do a follow-up list,” in the meantime go read her book — it is that good.
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward – This book was recommended by multiple people. One friend said to read this and her other book Men We Reaped together.
  • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Heart Berries by Therese Mailhot
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • The Diversity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequality In The Workplace by Ruchika Tulshyan
  • Hawker Fare: Stories & Recipes from a Refugee Chef’s Isan Thai & Lao Roots by James Syhabout
  • Unicorns Unite: How nonprofits and foundations can build EPIC Partnerships by Jessamyn Shams-Lau and Jane Leu and fellow late-night blogger at Nonprofitaf.com Vu Le

For the Younger Readers in Your life or for you:

  • Birchbark Series by Louise Erdrichs, make sure to read the Next Generation Makoons and Chickadee too.
  • Meet Yasmin by Saadia Faruqi
  • My Heart Fills With Happiness / Ni Sâkaskineh Mîyawâten Niteh Ohcih (bilingual Cree and English) by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Julie Fett
  • Imagine by poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera
  • Baro Af-Soomaali (Somali Edition) – This is a Somali alphabet book locally produced in Seattle. Order a copy and donate it to a school or classroom.
  • Red Knit Cap Girl series by Naoko Stoop
  • Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
  • Santa’s Husband by Daniel Kibblesmith and A P Quach (not poc authored, but it bust-Santa biases — a Black Gay Santa is featured in the book *writer’s privilege sneaks this onto the list)
  • Edit, I forgot a book I loved this year: Ordinary Ohana by Lee Cataluna. I requested this be added to the Seattle Public Library collection then borrowed it about five times, including to read aloud when I was a guest reader at WA-BLOC’s summer Freedom School. Go borrow it from the library or buy a copy for yourself.

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