Whether it’s a restaurant or where you buy your clothes, the businesses you support make a big difference in the fight for racial equality. The Black Lives Matter movement is urging consumers to support Black-owned local businesses. Local owners say they would like to see more Black-owned businesses in the area in the future.
From food truck, to restaurant, Swamp Daddy’s Cajun Kitchen has spent six years spicing up the local food scene.
“We take a lot of pride in each and every single customer that comes into the restaurant,” Julian Beaudion, co-owner, said.
Beaudion says food is a bridge that brings a lot of different people to the table.
“Food has always connected families. Whatever your background is. No matter what your belief is. You can always come to the table and break bread with each other,” Beaudion said.
Beaudion says customers and the business community have welcomed him, along with his co-owner wife. However, he says he’s one of the few Black business owners in Sioux Falls.
“There’s absolutely not enough diversity in Sioux Falls when it comes to that,” Beaudion said.
During the Black Lives Matters protests, there has been a nationwide push for Americans to support local Black entrepreneurs. Beaudion says doing that gives the community the equity it has long been without.
“For Black businesses in particular, it’s important because the wealth gap in America is extremely large right now. And, so, in order for us to close that wealth gap there has to be a piece of equity included so we have the same opportunities not to just own the businesses, but to employ others in the community,” Beaudion said.
“Being a business owner and entrepreneur is one of the great American ways to be able to upward mobilize and so that is always a sign of kind of the socioeconomic place that particular audience is in,” Vaney Hariri, owner of Think 3D Solutions, said.
Hariri says there are a few ways you can be supportive. One is to be mindful of where you spend your dollars. For example, before you go to a chain restaurant, consider exposing yourself to local restaurants owned by people of color, immigrants, or other minority groups.
“In terms of choosing Swamp Daddy’s over Popeye’s, or Jacky’s or Nikki’s over QDoba, those are no-brainers to me. Because, if you’ve ever eaten there, they’re amazing. But what it really speaks to is the homogenized version of things and the authentic version of things,” Hariri said.
Beaudion says it’s important for people of color to seek out leadership positions at work and in the community, as well as run for political office. He also says white people in positions of authority need to help.
“It’s really really important to be intentional about efforts to, number one, recruit people of color, number two, hire people of color, number three, develop those individuals once they enter the work force,” Beaudion said.
“Don’t look at it as you’re doing someone a favor. Look at it as exploring your community,” Hariri said.
The owner of Swamp Daddy’s knows a thing or two about food. He hopes his role and visibility as a Black business owner connects diverse communities in order to bring even more people of color to the table.
“I’m talking about really having a seat at the table, but really having an opportunity to build your own table, to invite others to have a seat at it as well,” Beaudion said.
A local blogger recently compiled a list of local businesses owned by people of color. You can see that on her website.