Still no chronological order, but we’ll take it!
The spotlight on Black-owned businesses is brighter than ever after cities across the country erupted in protests against police brutality, systematic racism, and rampant anti-Blackness last year. Sympathetic gestures of allyship have often been fleeting at best and hypocritical clout-chasing at their worst. Instagram is the latest corporation to make a gesture of solidarity by launching a new label for businesses to identify as Black-owned:
“We’re making it easier for people to discover Black-owned businesses directly on Instagram. Businesses based in the US with Shops on Instagram will now be able to designate as Black-owned and display a ‘Black-owned’ label,” Instagram announced.
“In the last year, the Instagram community has come together in support of Black-owned businesses, and businesses have found creative ways to be discovered. Last summer through fall, there were over 1.3 million Instagram posts in support of “Black-owned” or ‘Black-led’ businesses. And the number of businesses located in the US with ‘Black-owned’ or ‘black-led’ in their profile increased over 50%.”
In July of 2020, Google similarly launched a feature for businesses to self-identify as Black-owned. Despite YouTube also announcing a $100 million fund to support Black voices and perspectives, its parent company, Google, reportedly blocked advertisers from targeting Black Lives Matter videos on YouTube. The new labels could be a thoughtful way to support Black entrepreneurs in overcoming the business challenges that disproportionately affect them. However, many already suspect it’s just a clever PR move for Instagram’s expanding @shop marketplace.
Developing a platform that features and supports Black-owned businesses may be a new addition for Instagram, but innovative Black entrepreneurs already built their own marketplaces like Miiriya.
Although it is not clear how Google or Instagram will validate the new labels on their platforms, the new feature could have a powerful impact on millions of current and potential business owners.
We also have to shout out the sista behind the new feature, Rachel Brooks, who is Instagram’s Product Lead! Putting Black women in leadership positions is definitely the move!