Cassandra Schaeg at Sip Wine Beer in Escondido. Cover photo from her Facebook page

Black History Month allows the community to celebrate and pay tribute to Black culture while supporting the Black community.

Historically, this community has been disproportionately impacted economically and socially. And although the Black community has faced and continues to face challenges, we are resilient and we support one another.

The group we founded, Black San Diego, urges the community at-large to take the time to support San Diego’s Black-owned businesses that have faced ongoing financial challenges during the pandemic.

We launched Black San Diego to create an online community for Black-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, and professionals that would allow for connection, collaboration, and support. We did this because San Diego does not have a Black neighborhood where Black-owned businesses are centrally located in a specific area — they are scattered throughout the county.

This led to the launch of our group in April of 2016, a local Facebook group that has become a central hub for Black business owners to receive free educational information on how to run their business, learn about free marketing opportunities, and work as a referral network.

Over the course of the pandemic, the Black business community has been hit the hardest. A recent report from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 41% of Black-owned businesses have had to close their doors since March 2020.

Although these numbers are stark, with the community’s support and investment in Black-owned businesses we believe the network we created will help San Diego Black-owned businesses recover and keep their doors open.

This past summer, we saw our community rally in support of the Black community following outrage over the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the countless other Black lives lost at the hands of police brutality. They not only took to the streets to support the Black Lives Matter movement and protest alongside the Black community, they sought out Black-owned businesses to support and invest their dollars in.

Black San Diego experienced a large influx of traffic on our page, with an increase of 3,000 followers within the first month of the protests alone. Now with nearly 40,000 followers, our Facebook group allows the community to use the referral network when looking for Black-owned businesses to support.

If you’re looking to support a local bar we recommend Sip Wine Beer that is owned by Cassandra Schaeg, who sources wine and beer created by women and minorities in the industry. Sip Wine Bar is located in Escondido and despite being closed for indoor operations due to local public health guidelines, they are selling wine bottles and beers available for pick-up.

If you’re looking for vegan food, the Rollin Roots food truck offers a great selection of options that are healthy, green, and sustainable in San Diego. If you love plants and are looking to make your home greener, North Park Nursery has you covered.

No matter what you are looking for, Black San Diego can help point you in the direction of a Black-owned business that can provide you with the services or products you are looking for.

In order to continue to support our mission to support and educate the Black business community, our non-profit Black San Diego offers the community a digital directory with over 600 Black-owned businesses that provide various services and products. As we continue to discover Black-owned businesses by word of mouth or through our Facebook page, we will add them to the digital directory.

When Black-owned businesses succeed, our community as a whole succeeds. We strongly urge San Diegans to shop or utilize services provided by our local Black-owned businesses or share their favorite Black-owned business with the Black San Diego Facebook group.

By uniting together we can ensure that our Black-owned businesses are able to survive this crisis and keep their doors open.

Sheri Jones and Tinicia Smith are founders of Black San Diego.

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