“It goes back to how you control your community. Whoever feeds you really controls you,” said Raphael Wright.
An entrepreneur from Detroit is on a mission to increase representation when it comes to ownership in the area by opening up the city’s only Black-owned grocery store, Civil Eatsreported.
Raphael Wright started his journey to bring this establishment to fruition two years ago after noticing that Black-owned grocery stores in Detroit’s underserved communities were non-existent; despite African Americans accounting for 80 percent of the Motor City’s population. He decided he wanted to change that narrative and began laying the foundation for the creation of the store. He unveiled a plan for a 5,000-square-foot market to be based in the Islandview community inside of a mixed-use development. He’s also been eyeing other locations in underserved communities.
Wright wants his business to be more than just an average bodega. In an effort to make healthy food options more accessible and affordable for these communities he plans on teaming up with individuals who are a part of Detroit’s urban agricultural landscape so the store can sell fresh food. He also wants the store to serve as a cultural hub and community meeting space. Wright says he wants to utilize his entrepreneurial endeavors to promote the importance of Black ownership and reinvesting in our own communities.
“It goes back to how you control your community. Whoever feeds you really controls you. And if we’re not in control of that—it’s bigger than just the economic consequence. We lose a piece of our culture, our history,” he told the news outlet. “You have fried chicken spots in the hood, but they’re [not owned by Black people]. Your grandmother cooked this food your whole life. Why doesn’t she have a chicken spot? There’s much more at stake when Black people don’t control food. There’s our health, our culture—everything is at stake when we don’t control the grocery store.”
As far as funding and securing capital—which can be a struggle for many Black entrepreneurs —Wright has invested nearly $50,000 of his own money towards the project and has raised $47,000 through a crowdfunding campaign. He also garnered $70,000 through other forms of funding.
Wright is a part of a wave of Black entrepreneurs who are making the effort to reclaim their communities through ownership. In January, an entrepreneur announced plans to open up the only Black-owned bookstore in Orlando.