10 Black-owned businesses that are shaping Chicago right now
At the start of Black History Month, we are reminded that highlighting and celebrating local Black businesses shouldn’t be limited to just 28 days of the year. After all, if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that our support for the Black community in Chicago cannot be conditional. It’s more important than ever to shine a spotlight on entrepreneurs and activists who are using their platforms to effect change throughout the city. Here’s a good place to start: 10 Black-owned businesses that are shaping Chicago right now—from a bookshop and marketplace of shipping containers to a pie purveyor and a South Side boutique. Quite honestly, we love to see it! Aaron Oliver is the founder of Seasoned & Blessed, a site dedicated to chronicling and celebrating the diverse dining experience in Chicago and beyond.
Supporting Chicago’s Black-owned restaurants is a lifelong commitment
Over the past few weeks, we’ve witnessed a shift in the atmosphere, a reckoning if you will. The recent wave of protests against police brutality across the world makes it impossible to ignore the continued mistreatment that Black Americans face on a daily basis. We understand that things can’t return to the way they once were, and we shouldn’t want them to. These outcries have also exposed cracks embedded within many industries, most notably the hospitality scene, where discriminatory practices, deep-seated racism and a lack of inclusivity and diversity have always existed. I’ve seen these flaws for years—they’re part of the reason I founded Seasoned and Blessed, a food blog that chronicles the Black and Brown food experience in Chicago and beyond. While my journey in food writing has been rewarding, it has also been rife with exhaustion—from going to events where I was the only Black person in attendance to reading “best of” lists from publications that rarely included Black-owned restaurants to being reimbursed for my creative work with bottles of ketchup. It was this blatant lack of diversity that fueled Seasoned and Blessed for the past four years. For me, this is a passion project that ties together my love of food and my dedication to Black culture. Fast-forward to the beginning of June, in the midst of a global pandemic and worldwide protests: I suddenly found myself thrust into the spotlight, with a wave of new followers and support. My platform was finally being cel