Black-Owned Marketplace Organizer Kyley Coleman. Photo courtesy of Kyley Coleman.

On July 7, you can give Black-owned businesses an economic boost.

Blackout Tuesday is a national social media initiative that encourages people to shop Black-owned establishments while taking a stand against systemic racism and police brutality. The local event will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. at The Shop at 621 N. Dallas Ave., in Homewood.

More than 50 businesses are participating in the fair, which is free and open to the public. In addition to shopping, guests — who are encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing – will enjoy live performances and DJ sets from Black artists. Donations can be made via Venmo ($blackownedpgh) or Cash App (BlackownedPGH), with 100 percent of the proceeds being applied to the production of the event.

Organizer Kyley Coleman hopes to make the Black-Owned Marketplace an annual occurrence.

The 19-year-old University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg sophomore is founder and curator of the Instagram account @BlackOwnedPGH, which provides an easy way to locate, showcase and support the area’s Black-owned businesses.

In just three weeks, the page attracted more than 11,400 followers, with Black business owners reporting an uptick in sales. Local student organizations have offered to volunteer at the marketplace as a show of solidarity.

“It’s a great space for everyone to come together as one and show what Pittsburgh’s unity is all about,” says Coleman, a graduate of Taylor Allderdice High School. “The youth, particularly, has a major influence and voice for change.”

Inspired by the response to the page and the passion of Black entrepreneurs, Coleman, a biology and psychology student on the pre-pharmacy track, might change her major to business and marketing. In the near future, she wants to add new team members to @BlackOwnedPGH and expand her resource guide to include businesses in other cities.

“From a young age, I was always taught that I will need to work twice as hard to get half as far — solely because of my skin color,” she says. “This narrative is a concept that I refuse to live by. Black people should have equal chance, support and opportunities anyone else has. With racism affecting all avenues of life, I wanted to find a starting point — somewhere I could make an effective, efficient and urgent change.”

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.