Disney Cast Unites to Pour More Than $136,000 Into Black-Owned Businesses

Supporting Black businesses is not only good for the economy but good for the soul. “Buying Black” has many personal, community, and economic benefits, including diversifying the marketplace, creating jobs, and generating revenue that can be reinvested back into the Black community. So, it was an easy “yes” when Wakanda BERG, one of Disney’s Black Employee Resource Groups, invited me to lead the annual Buy Black Challenge in honor of Black History Month.

This year, highlighting Black-owned businesses was a cornerstone of Disney’s Black History Month programming. Recognizing the historical underinvestment in Black-owned businesses, Disney’s Black business employee resource groups (BERG) rallied to support Black and African American communities, businesses, and entrepreneurs in a spirited cross-competition encouraging cast members and employees to support businesses from a curated list of Black licensees, including eateries, bookstores, pet supplies, skincare and more, that the company partners with throughout the year on Disney-branded products.

Well, the final numbers from the 2023 Black Business Challenge are in! Cast members and employees poured a whopping $136,542 into the Black business economy —crushing this year’s goal of $50,000!

Creative Soul Photography, Actively Black, and Chef Nina Catering were some clear favorites on the list with cast and employees participating in more than 500 purchases.

Charlene Pugh, Disney HR Services and Doug Johnson, National Geographic Editor, rock their Actively Black Wakanda Forever vest and sweatshirt!

“When I was first approached to support the work of this year’s Buy Black Challenge, I was a bit anxious. I’ve been one to support Black businesses generally as a consumer, but the idea of wrangling my fellow colleagues to do the same seemed a bit daunting. However, as I worked alongside Ivy to organize and administer the work, I marveled at how the challenge took on a life of its own,” said Buy Black Challenge Co-lead, Doug Johnson.

“We created a virtual Street team where folks were posting to their various social feeds within Disney promoting the challenge and posting about their purchases. We reached out to senior leaders to amplify and broaden the challenge. We worked directly with Black licensees to create Wakanda-themed products and learned more about their brands and stories. Overall, it was a phenomenal experience and promises to bear even more fruit as we work to support Black-owned businesses 365 days of the year—we’re building a movement and not a moment.”

Jameelah Bealum, Senior Manager, Alliance Management shows off her Buy Black Challenge purchases including Black Girl Magic Wine, Be You Candles, A Dozen Cousins and Telfar.
Alysia Haygood, Supplier Diversity, glowed in her Fenty Beauty purchase while Brandy Tate, ESPN shines in her Power in Black Tee.

Cast shared their purchases on employee Slack channels while the Buy Black Street Team encouraged cast and employees to submit their receipts and purchases. Wakanda@Disney was the BERG that came in at the #1 spot pouring over $21,000 into Black business with Florida PULSE in second place spending $19,000.

Genia McNeal, Client Service Manager, snaps a picture in front of Black-owned food collective, The Hall on The Yard in Orlando, Florida. Dani Ganley, Employee Culture Manager, excited to sip her Hella Tea purchase.

One of the biggest highlights of the challenge is that we spent more than $130,000 in 27 days. I think about the collective impact we can all make if we were intentional about supporting Black businesses 365 days a year—the impact would be incredible! Buying from Black businesses does a lot more than just help the business, it also empowers and supports the communities they are a part of.

You can continue to support Black businesses throughout the year! Check out the full list of this year’s Buy Black Challenge licensees!