Those needs included resources to create business cards, aid in designing company websites and ideas on how to market their products and services to customers. Brangman also says the event saw many people from non-profit organizations who were hoping to learn more about growing their outreach within the Ithaca community.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Brangman says B.L.O.C grew as an organization since many people started their own businesses as a way to earn extra income and pursue new careers they were more passionate about. B.L.O.C includes a variety of different businesses like artisans, soap makers, food caterers, and even a graphologist. Every B.L.O.C member can be found on the organization’s directory page below. www.businessleadersofcolors.com
As an Office Administrator in the office of Global Learning at Cornell University, Brangman has close ties with the Ithaca community. Many of the businesses that are part of B.L.O.C are based in Ithaca. The organization is also expanding to the greater New York area in places like Albany, and Brangman hopes to see B.L.O.C become a national organization in the future.
Brangman hopes to connect with more college students who can help run social media pages for small business owners in their area. She says that not only will they be helping a local business, but they will also get the opportunity to work with new business start-ups and get firsthand experience running a company’s social media page.
Small business owners have the option to purchase either the gold or platinum membership for either $8 or $11 monthly to join B.L.O.C. Both membership options include being in the company’s directory, access to financial and business training courses, event planning and posting on the B.L.O.C site and other resources exclusive to the organization.
As Brangman strives for both Ithaca to become more well rounded when it comes to the small businesses, the community, and even through diversity, equity, and inclusion, Ithaca College’s Ujima Black Student Union (UBSU) strives to do the same, both within IC’s campus, but also locally within Tompkins County.
The attraction for the club grew so much that UBSU was named Club of the Year, in their first year. Many other students of color have assisted in making and building UBSU for the way it is: Former President and Student Sophia Meadows, Current President Nicole Bethany Onwuka, and Former Publications Coordinator/Communications Liaison, Amir Tazi.
Amir Tazi joined UBSU ever since they started in the Fall of 2019. “...I wanted to be another hand in helping the idea of what it could be and what it meant. To me was just finding a way to create a space where people felt loved, people who felt cared for, and a place to sort of not only just talk about important things that are going on but sort of relax, and not have to bring up your oppression in every single classroom…I wanted it to be a place of joy and that's what I sort of felt like my role was above all else…”
In our zoom interview, Tazi emphasized how important community building both inside and outside of IC’s campus is extremely important. “The work that meant the most to me was sort of just having people come up to me and say “When's the next BSU meeting?” I had a really good time. It was being able to see people that I started meeting every day now… and connecting with people who may not fit in the ideal stereotype of what blackness is was the work that I loved being a part of and the work that doesn't get tallied or you know there's no statistic for it.”
Furthermore, building those connections and bonds with different communities was difficult once COIVD hit. “I think the biggest problem with the COVID pandemic was [that] a lot of people were tired, a lot of people didn’t want to do anything. People didn’t want to have the meetings, people didn’t want to connect with the freshman, and me being one of those people… and it just became sort of more so a task than anything fun…”
Looking on the bright side, with the help and background of UBSU, he was able to gain connections that aided not only himself, but also UBSU as a whole. “...It made me happy because it's like what did you gain and what did you lose during COVID? I lost a lot, but I gained all these new people that I never met. I gained this feeling of joy being back here and seeing so many different faces.”
As well as their IC Engage page, for more information:ithaca.campuslabs.com