Blackout Day draws national attention to Black spending power

Many Black Americans on Tuesday participated in a one-day spending stoppage called Blackout Day. Not opening their wallet was part of a larger effort aimed at highlighting how the Black dollar powers the U.S. economy and how America would be a very different place if Black consumers aren't participating. 

Black athletes and celebrities – including singer Rihanna, Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson and rapper Cardi B – have used social media to bring wider attention to Blackout Day in recent weeks. Rapper T.I. said via Instagram that there should be "one day of solidarity in America when not one Black person in America spends a dollar."

The Blackout Day movement is in its infancy and it hasn't caught on with every Black American. Although some African-Americans didn't spend money on July 7, others instead patronized Black-owned businesses — and some likely ignored the call altogether. Either way, the day has its roots in trying to emphasize what Black people have contributed, and continue to contribute, to businesses nationwide.  

What is Blackout Day?

Blackout Day is when Black Americans are asked to not spend money — or only with a Black-owned business if necessary. 

The phrase Blackout Day first surfaced in 2015 on Tumblr as an effort to showcase Black artists and creators and combat negative stereotypes Black people have endured. Then, this May, a Texas resident named Calvin Martyr morphed the phrase Blackout Day into an economic boycott. 

The Blackout Day effort has gained steam following the deaths of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police as well as the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. 

What issue does Blackout Day spotlight? 

Black Americans and their spending are becoming an ever-larger slice of the U.S. economy, especially spending on consumer goods, ranging from shoes to cell phone services. African-American buying power surpassed $1 trillion in 2016 and is expected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2021, according to the University of Georgia. That makes Black Americans the largest racial consumer market.

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