Owner of Pure Luna Ashe Brown. | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss

Like a lot of Santa Barbarans, Angie Chung wants to walk the walk when it comes to supporting her black neighbors. Lip service comes cheap, she understands, but real change does not. And the immense weight that money carries in shaping and reshaping a community can’t be denied. 

To help leverage the power of our collective pocketbooks, Chung, a data analyst, recently created a list of Santa Barbara County’s black-owned businesses. Though the compilation is as comprehensive as possible ― Chung made it by doing online research, talking to friends and coworkers, and soliciting suggestions from the businesses she’d already confirmed with ― she welcomes feedback and is happy to make additions.

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Intentionally patronizing these places ― from the Santa Ynez Valley Swim Club to JaniCare Commercial Cleaning in Goleta to Cali 805 footwear in Santa Barbara to Summerland Salon and Spa, and so on ― is a simple but important step toward flattening a historically uneven playing field, Chung explained. “Especially with Santa Barbara having a small Black and African-American community, I find it vital to give support,” she said. The reaction to this list, now making the rounds online and racking up thousands of views, has been overwhelmingly positive. “The local community has truly gone out of its way to speak up and share,” she said. 

Chung gave a special shoutout to Lee’s Tailoring on lower Hollister Avenue. “He has always done a great job and in a timely fashion,” she said, “even when I’ve scrambled last-minute to get a dress altered a few days before a wedding.”

Ashe Brown, founder and owner of Pura Luna Women’s Apothecary on Chapala Street, best articulated the financial dynamics at play here in Santa Barbara. “We can’t stress enough how vitally important it is to support black-owned businesses,” she wrote in Pura Luna’s latest newsletter. “We need to help close the racial wealth gap to create more opportunities for meaningful savings, property ownership, credit building, and generational wealth. By supporting black, you help support job creation for other [people of color].”

“When it comes to the wealthy and rich here,” Brown went on, “there is no lack of white money, and thank goodness for Oprah for representing the dream that some black Americans hold for themselves. However, one black woman mogul is not enough. Can we see and create more, please? Your dollar and the way you choose to spend it is powerful. Know that your informed choice and effort to support minority-owned businesses helps us tip the scales to empower our communities.”

In a different but similarly-intentioned economic vein, Councilmember Michael Jordan last Tuesday suggested the city enact a fee or tax to fund social equity initiatives. It could be like the two-percent hotel bed tax that Santa Barbara charges to help pay for environmental programs, he explained.

“The situation we are in, the foundation for it, was based largely on economic gain by others using people of color,” Jordan said. “It could be that if you are going to come visit this city and have the pleasure of being here, you are also going to help contribute to making it a better place for all of our community.”

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