Editor’s Note: Remember to vote! Election day is coming up next Tuesday, 5 November. Please remember to pay attention to all the races, especially those that typically don’t get a ton of attention such as school board races.
If you are in WA, learn more about Referendum 88. I won’t tell you how to vote, be an informed voter on this topic. I voted APPROVE. APPROVE means I’m using my vote to undo systemic racism in government agencies and university recruitment. This won’t solve all racism, but it is one step towards racial justice.
By Erin Okuno
About a week ago I received a text from my friend Lauren with a screenshot of a Facebook post showing the POC Business Map had been trolled. It was evening and I was playing board games with my kids, but this text looked serious. Someone took deleted every single pin on the map and left a snarky comment. I forwarded the screenshot to the rest of the Equity Matters team.
There was a mix of emotions from the team. Annoyance, anger, disappointment, pissyness, and then resolve to rebuild the map. The previous map had been accessed over 103,000 times – presumably to do good by finding and investing back into people of color owned businesses. The map was created in Google Maps and open source, meaning anyone could use it for good or to sabotage the efforts by deleting all of the pins.
Heidi and Mindy of Equity Matters created the original map several years ago. It started as a way for Heidi to find some places where she could meet clients and friends for drinks and food. She wanted to make sure her money was being invested into POC businesses. Mindy did some basic research and the framework for the map. It was shared on social media and tons of pins were added. I also hope people used it to find new businesses and to support community building efforts.
When we learned the map was trolled, we assessed what we could do. Some swear words flew back and forth via text, food pictures too since it was evening and we had just gotten off of work. When we stopped swearing and eating we looked into things and figured out there wasn’t a way to recover the original map. Sadly, Google Maps doesn’t have an undo function. What we were lucky L Patrice saw the Facebook post and offered a copy of the map. It gave us a start to rebuild from.
The new map is organized slightly differently. This one is not sorted by business type (e.g. restaurants, coffee shops, services, etc.), version two is sorted by race. This change allows us to intentionally support POCs and holds us more accountable to supporting diverse POCs.
Heidi and the Equity Matters team decided to continue to keep it open source. We trust people to use it for good. We are making copies of the map often and asking others to do the same. If it is trolled again we may put out a call to the community to share their copies. The benefits of having an open-source map is more important than locking it or not rebuilding. We are resilient and more passionate than one troll who was angry or bored for 40 minutes which is the amount of time it took the person to delete all of the pins from the last map.
Why and How to Use the Map
Heidi created the map so she could more easily find places to drink and eat. She wanted to spend her drinking and eating money at POC owned businesses. There are racial wealth gaps in America and where people spend their money can either close or widen those gaps. Because of these racialized wealth gaps business owners of color, especially Black and Brown business owners, have a harder time accessing loans, investors, and networks to gain access to information and power brokers. Spending money within communities of color and purchasing from business owners of colors helps them keep their businesses going and gaining access to more capital and opportunities.
The power of networks is important. When you support business owners of color there is a good chance they are connected to other POCs and will share information, tips, and relationships within these informal and formal networks. This will help to seed the next round and generation of POC business owners.
The map is one of many ‘tools’ out there to help you find businesses where you can spend your money. As an example, if you are trying to set up a business lunch, pull up the map and look for a POC owned lunch spot nearby. Or if you are looking for a specific type of business such as a bookstore, type that into the search bar to see what pops up. Many of the bookstores listed have online stores that can expand your ability to support POCs nationally.
We know you have POC businesses we don’t know about. Please share them by placing a pin for that business. Find the race category for the business on the left side and click the category, then type the business name into the search bar, when you find the business and location click ‘+ Add to map.’ This is easier to do on a computer than a mobile device. We are excited to see the map expand and grow nationally.
Link to the new map is here. Bookmark it so you can refer to it often. Make copies of it too so we have many many many backup copies.
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