In communities across the world, people are searching for meaningful ways to support the Black Lives Matter movement by protesting or taking other action to fight against racism. Right here in Worcester, Holy Cross seniors Sienna Ablorh '21 and Dorean Asuako '21 created a list of local Black-owned businesses—currently at 153 and still growing—to make it easier for consumers to support Black-owned enterprises in the local community.
"I drew inspiration specifically from seeing people from various cities uplift their own communities," says Ablorh, who initially approached Asuako for help with the idea. "Also, on a personal level, the list, especially the cosmetics and hair sections, was driven from my own experience of not having more places to direct people to after I get the question, 'Where do you get your hair done?'—especially when they are usually asking the best places to get protective hair styles done. I hope people will go out into the community more and explore the many talents that the people and businesses on the list have to offer."
"I definitely noticed how there's been a push for Black people and also non-Black people to think more consciously about where we're putting our money," notes Asuako. "Specifically, to think about the brands and the companies we support and if they are promoting what these protests are asking for: action and accountability. When Sienna had first asked me for help, it really was a call to self-reflect: how many businesses do I know that actively support the Black community or are part of the Black community? How many of them are right here in my own city?"
What started as a seemingly small initiative took hours of research and has already generated traction in the community and created positive impact for area Black-owned businesses. The list has been circulating widely and now features 153 businesses, many of whom have reached out to report an influx of customers.
"At first, I didn’t know what the list would do," says Ablorh. "But I started to receive a lot of feedback thanking me for the list and letting me know that it was helpful. It made me feel good that the list is actually beneficial."
The rising Holy Cross seniors are hopeful that their list will continue to make an impact—both in the community and back on campus once it's safe for students to return. Both students, who plan to serve in leadership roles as mentors for the incoming Class of 2024 as part of the College Transitional Program, see it one more resource for those who will be joining the community on Mt. St. James.
"There's so many different ways to take action," Asuako notes. "In times like these where it can be overwhelming and easy to overexert yourself, it's important to recognize what you have the power to do and how you can push yourself out of your comfort zone to do more and demand more."
To learn more about Ablorh and Asuako's activism and the response from local businesses, click here for a recent Telegram & Gazette feature or tune into the virtual 2020 Women in Business Conference on November 7. You can find their list of Black-owned businesses here.
Holy Cross Seniors Create List of Black-Owned Local Businesses
The list, which has already impacted local businesses, was inspired by a desire to do more in the fight against racism