In the Fall of 2019, I was working as a part-time blogger and a full-time quality engineer for a government contractor. My full-time job had me traveling in and out of San Diego for months on end. As luck would have it, I was born in Oceanside and have family in the area, so I knew that I wanted to make it a priority to learn more about San Diego during my time. One of the ways I did this was by actively seeking out Black-owned restaurants in the area.
As a Black travel blogger and small business owner, I know the importance of supporting small Black-owned businesses and thought that while living on per diem and having some additional funds from work, I would challenge myself to eat out at Black-owned eateries as often as possible while in the area.
However, I quickly found that there was no collated list of Black-owned food spots in San Diego. And so I adjusted my mission to create this list for myself.
Over the course of months, I slowly ordered from, emailed back and forth with, spoke to locals, and curated a detailed list of Black-Owned San Diego eateries that I had discovered and vetted. Along my journey I became in tune with the San Diego food scene and, with only 6.4 percent of the San Diego population being Black, I fostered a relationship with these businesses.
Now, in June of 2020, I'm seeing the fruits of that labor ten times over. With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the senseless killing of George Floyd, race and the Black human experience has become a hot topic. Many Black-owned businesses and restaurants across the country are seeing a sudden uptick in business as protesters and allies show support.
My original article has now been repurposed more times than I can count into Instagram graphics, Tik-Tok, Pinterest images, Twitter threads, and Google Documents—and the real-life results have been astronomical.
My list was picked up by several local San Diego news stations. Fox 5 San Diego and ABC 10 News San Diego repurposed a version of my list and the local businesses featured saw an immediate boom in business. Flavors of East Africa in North Park saw a normal day’s peak quadruple and generated nearly $6000 in revenue. The owners cite it as their busiest day in history.
Spoiled Vegan, a Black-owned and completely vegan eatery, sold out in 15 minutes and had to do multiple restocks to keep up with the demand. Rhythms Chicken & Waffles messaged me on Instagram to let me know that they saw a four-times increase in their waiting list as locals hurriedly put in orders. I chatted on the phone with the social media manager of Bankhead Mississippi and learned that because of the coronavirus business had been down 40 percent, but now she was in a hurry to end the call and assist in keeping up with the orders they still had pouring in days after the initial rush that had started on Tuesday.
It's hard to think that most or all of the viral posts or lists made on Black-out Tuesday could have been made practically overnight without referencing mine, as my original article was the only list of Black-owned restaurants in San Diego for more than six months. And of course, when I originally made the list I could have had no idea the real-life impact that it would have on the county of San Diego and beyond. Though I don't completely agree with the way that my work was repurposed, in the fight for appropriate credit I’ve been facing as a Black creator, I cannot deny that it warms my heart to see the Black-owned food scene in San Diego finally get the recognition that it deserves.
To bolster these individuals, their years of dedication in a majority white area, and their passion for food was my original intent, and I hope it continues far beyond as the Black Lives Movement progresses.