When Angie Coleman goes to Sephora, she always runs into the same problem: “Everything is made by white people for white people.”
As a black woman, struggling to find foundation that is the right color for her skin is just one of many issues Coleman confronts every time she shops. “So many black people feel insecure,” she says of the shopping experience. “Because we know the products aren’t made with us in mind."
As part of a Reboot Safety hackathon, Coleman, the organization's programs and outreach director, decided to build the BuyBlack Chrome extension, which helps online shoppers find black-owned businesses. Navigate to Sephora, click on the black fist at the top of your browser, and you'll be given a long list of alternatives, like Black Opal, a cosmetics and skincare company for women of color.
Though most of the Reboot Safety hackathon projects took on police violence, Coleman was most interested in the black economy. “There’s an entire system behind [Black Lives Matter] that’s been growing for years and years that’s broken and needs to be fixed,” she says. Coleman believes a strong black economy will have a trickle-down effect, helping to combat police violence and other forms of injustice.
“How are we not putting money back into our own businesses?” she asked herself before launching the project.
“While I realize this is a very personal decision and thing to share, I’m proud to say I made that step today,” Solange shared with 1.4 million people. It was "time to literally put my money where my mouth is.” (In the coming days, 8,000 people applied to join the only black-owned bank in Atlanta).
Coleman hopes that the eventually, users of BuyBlack will be able to easily submit businesses and build lists of their favorites. She also wants to develop similar extensions for other people of color and continue to fight inequality with solutions from Silicon Valley.
“No one else is supporting us,” she says. “So we have to support ourselves.”
Deputy editor of Real Future.