HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Many consumers are participating in a national economic protest Tuesday called Blackout Day.
It's a call for racial equality, encouraging black Americans to not spend a dollar anywhere unless it's a black-owned business.
Craig Brown has owned his Hempstead store, Craig's Clothing, for 20 years. He said the shop has seen its fair share of troubles throughout the years, but nothing compares to the coronavirus shutdown.
"I was closed, nobody came out," Brown told CBS2's Nina Kapur. "It was different and now we're trying to come back. I'm behind on rent. I still got to try to do what I can do."
Craig's Clothing shut its doors from mid-March until about two weeks ago. Brown is still scared of losing his business and his livelihood. He's not alone.
Just down the street, Melesia Labeach offers a popular cosmetic service in eyelash extensions at the Lash Box by Mona Lisa. After weeks of a forced closure, she, too, is struggling to make ends meet. Labeach said downtown Hempstead's foot traffic is nothing like it was before.
"I was very scared because I really worked hard to acquire this business and it means so much to me to own my business," Labeach said.
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Members with the Hempstead Chamber of Commerce hope Blackout Tuesday can send a strong message that black consumers hold a lot of economic power and can continue the fight for equality with their wallets.
"African Americans control over $1 trillion of buying power in the U.S. and time and time again, we see that in order to move the needle in social reform, it's necessary to flex that economic muscle," said Village of Hempstead Trustee Jeffrey Daniels.
The movement comes on the heels of the Black Lives Matter movement and countless protests across the country against police brutality. It's a message local business owners hope goes beyond just Tuesday's call for action.
"As a black woman, I am proud to be a business owner and I would love people that are in the community to support me as well," said Labeach.
It's a showing of support that could help keep many minority-owned businesses afloat.
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