How Ashley La Russa is Changing Black Representation in Tucson

Looking for something to do this weekend? Check out Blax Friday and support a Black-owned business. 

Ashley La Russa has steadily changed Tucson for the better. Originally moving here for the Arizona Theatre Company, La Russa decided after 10 years to plant her roots and has made it her mission to foster the community ever since. Although La Russa has dedicated much to the Black community, the project closest to her heart is Blax Friday: An initiative that shines a once-dim light on Black business owners of Tucson, Arizona


In 2020, La Russa and other Black business owners gathered to see what they could do about the lack of representation in Tucson. While several cities had resources for people to find and support local Black businesses, Tucson had nothing. 


“Blax Friday was my way of seeing what I could do in the community while being an introvert and while being really scared to go out in public still. I am not comfortable marching and police give me the chills, so what can I do to be a part of the solution?” said La Russa.   


After having this realization, Blax Friday was born. This Black-operated directory lets users locate and support Black-owned businesses in Arizona. The site and app are free and easy to use and have categories such as apparel, legal, beauty, health, fitness and more. 


Since launching in 2020, Blax Friday has grown rapidly. La Russa shared that the most rewarding part of spearheading this organization was not only seeing the participation numbers spike in just two short years, but also uplifting businesses and voices who were largely ignored in the past. 


“It is a perfectly supported business, especially by the community,” said La Russa. 


La Russa is a big believer in recirculating wealth  within the community. During an interview with COMMON, she emphasized that making an effort to support  Black businesses is not discriminatory in any way. 


“They are putting back into the economy so they should be supported – it shouldn’t be [Black people] who are pouring in – they should be poured into,” said La Russa.  


She also pointed out that people can intentionally shop with these businesses year-round, rather than  just during nationally recognized Black holidays such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Juneteenth and Black History Month.

For La Russa, this is only the start for Blax Friday. The organization recently partnered with the State of Black Arizona to expand the Black directory, which will uplift and support more Black businesses in the southwest than ever before.


La Russa believes  that young Black entrepreneurs should invest and build in themselves. When Black business owners believe in themselves, the possibilities are endless – especially in Tucson. 


“I see revolutionary ideas when it comes to putting the community first,” said La Russa. 


To learn more about La Russa’s efforts and Black businesses in Tucson, visit:


To learn more about Black businesses in Arizona, visit: 


You can also find Blax Friday at the MSA Annex every last Wednesday of the month for Soul Food Wednesdays! Various Black businesses owners come out to share their products and brands with the community and it is a great spot to show your support. 




We’ll see you there!


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