[EDITOR'S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank.]
YOUNGSTOWN — A Youngstown-based advocacy movement for the black community, Black Periodt, is launching its brand with T-shirts as a tool to encourage an ongoing conversation about issues that impact the black community.
Black Periodt started May 30 with three T-shirt designs and 50 percent of the proceeds will be invested directly back into the black community.
Periodt is a slang term for period, meaning a statement is final with nothing else to be said or debated, according to dictionary.com.
“I started blackperiodt.com because black lives do matter — periodt, end of story, no questions asked,” said Black Periodt owner Carmella Williams.
“We want to do these shirts to continue to help encourage conversation about our current state as a country, even after the [protests] died down, so hopefully we can encourage conversation,” she added.
Although Williams has not picked specific beneficiaries of the Black Periodt proceeds yet, blackperidot.com said funds will be donated toward causes that “advance education, small business, health and well being as well as support beautifying neighborhoods.”
“The money generated will be used to take on small projects in forgotten black neighborhoods, voter registration, and other pillars that need to be addressed in the black community,” according to a news release.
“The goal that I have is whatever project we start off with, it has to be something where we see immediate impacts [and] immediate changes,” Williams said.
Williams, who is the director of diversity and inclusion at the Youngstown Business Incubator, said she’s seen clients who struggle financially to start a business. She wants donations from Black Periodt to go directly into building the black community and alleviating some of the issues she sees “stack up in front of her '' as a business consultant.
In addition to Black Periodt, Williams owns Carmella Marie Hair and Beauty, a plant-based hair and skin line that focuses on textured and curly hair.
She is no stranger to advocacy through entrepreneurship.
Within Carmella Marie Hair and Beauty, Williams has built a community around uplifting women. She’s hopeful that a community working to uplift the black community can build around Black Periodt, too.
“As an entrepreneur I know things get done faster on the business side,” she said. “I was like, ‘What can we do to get up and get moving and then mobilize people and create change?’ So I started Black Periodt as a tool to create a self-sustaining organization that can move quickly.”
Williams said she has a growing list of volunteers for Black Periodt who she plans to use in collaboration with local organizations to assist them in various areas, including being understaffed.
All three shirts are $19.95 each and T-shirt designs include:
- • black periodt;
- • i stand against racism;
- • black men are not weapons of mass destruction periodt.
Blackperiodt.com also gives an option to make a monetary donation instead of buying a T-shirt.
According to Williams, the Black Peridot movement plans to add more advocacy T-shirts in the future.
“Right now, we have the 2020 collection. We’ll probably have a conversation starters [collection] and we'll add different collections that will help continue on and also be current to what's going on in the news,” she said.
Williams also wants the T-shirts to be used as a tool for white allies to continue the conversation about racism outside of social media in their daily lives. She said the conversation about struggles in the black community can’t just be “a 2020 thing that we tuck away.”
“Until we see change, until we can maybe help someone see differently than what we see, see through our eyes,” she said. “It’s going to take more than the six months we have left in this year.”