Local First Arizona: Prioritize Black Communities, Businesses

By Christina Estes
Published: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 7:23am
Updated: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 11:11am

Archwood Express
Lisa Marie
Archwood Exchange has been conducting the monthly Buy Black marketplace for three years in downtown Phoenix at the Parsons Center for health and wellness.

A statewide business coalition is calling on Arizonans to support the black community with their dollars and voices.

Local First Arizona represents nearly 3,000 locally owned businesses. While the group promotes and supports independent businesses year round, Executive Director Thomas Barr said the priority now should be helping black-owned businesses.

“I don’t think people see it as playing favorites, I think people see it as addressing an issue that’s been experienced by African Americans for 400 years,” he said. “And we have to name it, we have to recognize it, so the response has been supportive, the response has been positive.” 

bilingual book shelf
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Palabras has books in Spanish, English and both languages.

Among other things, Local First Arizona is asking people to support black-owned businesses and move their money out of banks that have a history of redlining — that’s the discriminatory practice of denying loans and services to specific areas, most notably black communities. 

“I think the underscoring sentiment among people is that we’ve done very little for very long and now it’s time to do something large, it’s time for everybody to do something,” Barr said.

In a blog post, Local First also suggests people read and learn about black history and purchase books at Grassrootz Books and Juice Bar and Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, both located in Phoenix.

Nationally, major companies like Nike, Netflix and Nordstrom’s have aligned themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement. Others have issued statements denouncing racism and calling for systemic change.