Cambridge Local First

Cambridge Local First Stands in Solidarity with Black Communities.

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Cambridge, MA – Cambridge Local First (CLF) stands in solidarity with Black communities. Our work does not end with words of support or acknowledgement that Black Lives Matter. To start, we invite you to join us as we increase advocacy with and for Black-owned businesses and enhance diversity among our member businesses and Board. In addition, we want to listen well and seek feedback on how we can consider other efforts for the years to come. 

Cambridge Local First advocates for equal protection and an equitable economy. An economy cannot thrive when a group of people experience fear and stress walking down the street, when they cannot breathe.

It is long past the time to finally and fully confront the vicious, destructive role that racism has played throughout American history, mocking and subverting the fundamental principles proclaimed in the United States’ foundational documents: our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

In yet another instance of police brutality, the horrific killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, witnessed by all of America and the world, confronts all of us with a clear moral choice.  Will we now come together to work to eradicate divisive and racist policy and practice, demand accountability, and move our country toward “a more perfect union?”  Or will we turn away, as we did after the killing of Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, and the inexcusably long and growing list of individuals killed for simply “living while Black?”

Cambridge Local First seeks to help build a more just, diverse, equitable, and inclusive economy, and affirms that without equal protection for all, none of us are truly protected. In organizing and amplifying the voices of business leaders in pursuit of an inclusive and vibrant local economy, we must support, amplify, and elevate our Black-owned businesses and communities. We recommit ourselves to seeking out those whose voices have been marginalized by racial hatred.

Organizations like Cambridge Local First must take a leadership role, not just because the injustice of racism has corroded any semblance of a civil society, but because doing so is integral to our mission. We affirm that building a fair and equitable economy is inseparable from working toward racial justice. 

When a group’s rights and economic growth are stunted, this limits our entire, shared economy.

The majority of protests around the country have been and are peaceful and inspirational; the participants are courageous. The small minority of groups that have resorted to violence compound the economic shock of an ongoing global health crisis. 

When a group’s rights and economic growth are stunted, we all suffer. Black Americans have disproportionately experienced loss of or incomplete voting rights and access, property, and economic opportunity. Black business owners experience disproportionate discrimination, as they seek business loans, rental agreements, and contracts. As indicated by a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in 2015, the median wealth was close to zero for Black residents versus $247,500.00 for Whites in the Greater Boston area. As small business ownership is a primary vehicle for upward economic mobility for Americans everywhere, Black Americans need equitable opportunities in this space. The lack thereof has consistently undermined their collective wealth accumulation efforts. 

This situation extends to our hometown, Cambridge. “The City has a diverse business base, but Black business owners report no specific and active and quantifiable goals to encourage businesses to use it, or any reports of the results of business utilization from the directory” said Nicola Williams, owner of The Williams Agency and Cambridge Local First member. “The City of Cambridge and other organizations have created directories and various resources to help minority-owned businesses in our community. Some Black-owned businesses have not received any referrals from the directory, though it was created several years ago. We need to empower the directory, actively promote these resources, and endeavor to increase opportunities in city, state, and federal procurement for these businesses.”

We encourage residents to support Black-owned businesses in Cambridge. You can find a list of these businesses here.

Our work does not end with words of support or acknowledgement that Black Lives Matter. 

We are increasing our advocacy with and for Black-owned businesses in Cambridge, regardless of whether they are or are not a CLF member. We are amplifying their work and voices through social media and by working with our media partners. We are also reflecting inward, on CLF’s  membership and processes, to ensure that CLF’s listens well and include diverse voices. We will also look outward and onward, increasing our assistance to Black-owned businesses throughout Cambridge. In short, we commit to translating our words of support to action within and beyond CLF the organization.

Finally, we pledge to support local and national policies that bring about real and systematic change. We at Cambridge Local First devote ourselves to this effort, in full solidarity with our Black-owned businesses. 

We, the staff and board of CLF, are actively listening and emphasizing action. Please join us at our community conversation tomorrow, Thursday, at 4:30-5:30 PM, as we discuss how the small business community can both listen and lead on the road to a better future for Black lives.

About Cambridge Local First: Founded in 2005, Cambridge Local First (CLF) is a non-profit network of 400+ local and independent businesses in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Our mission is to support, promote, and celebrate a local economy community by educating the public and government about the significant environmental, economic, and cultural benefits of a strong local economy.

Media Contact: Theodora Skeadas, Executive Director (theodora@cambridgelocalfirst.org)

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