Why is it so important to support black-owned businesses, particularly right now? FieldTrip chef and owner JJ Johnson talks to Billy Shore about being a black business owner and what drives him to succeed. “Don’t say you care about black lives if you can’t walk into a black-owned business and look on the shelves and give it the same amount of money that you give a white-owned business,” says Johnson. There continue to be systemic barriers, as well. “When I was applying for my PPP money, I got declined three times. There are a lot of black-owned businesses that just weren’t able to get PPP money to stay alive,” Johnson explains about the Payment Protection Program within the CARES Act that has provided support for small businesses during the pandemic.
“I hire from the community. It gave this sense of hope that every time the lights would come on at Fieldtrip, it meant that someone could have a job, that we’re coming back and it’s going to be ok,” recounts Johnson about staying open throughout the pandemic by preparing food bowls for frontline hospital workers. “If we can make it in Harlem, we can make it anywhere in the world because the Harlem community will uplift you,” he says.