First and foremost: Black. Lives. Matter. This is my public pledge to continue the work I've been doing in my personal life to be anti-racist and acknowledge how I benefit from my proximity to whiteness & anti-Blackness and work on reducing and hopefully dismantling systemic barriers with and for others. This is the core work of fair trade, and I acknowledge and understand that to be anti-racist is a life-long journey, not a goal that one ever reaches. It is also a journey I aim to bring others along for the ride.
To my non-Black friends and customers, who are still wondering where to begin with your anti-racism efforts, I ask you to join me in action. Firstly, as Sonya Renee Taylor urges, speak to your own family and communities, not to debate the humanity of another human being, but to call into question how you and they benefit from and are party to your whiteness or proximity to it. Identify the issues, and work on it within yourselves. THAT is the time to center yourself in the conversation, not when you are in a Black person's proximity, wondering what you can do to help. Just help your own family/community understand how they benefit from anti-Blackness and what you all can do to act on anti-racism, ESPECIALLY if they claim not to be racists.
The beauty of anti-racism is that you don't have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it's the only way forward. https://t.co/DL3c2vIXcB— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) July 15, 2019
Follow, promote, and buy from Black-owned businesses, and support Black leaders and organizers with your time or money. Amplify their voices, pass the mic and listen, invite them to the table, share your resources, and break bread with them. If you have skills, share them. If you have talents, use them to lift them up. Don’t wait for someone to tell you or ask you, just share the bounty. Listen to Black people, especially Black women, and follow their lead (but not Shaun King who literally profits off of trauma porn, scams people--out of millions, and steals from Black women). Pay them. Support their movements, large and small. And just share the literal and figurative wealth that so many of us have benefited from and has been systemically withheld from the rest of us, the very community whose backs this country was built on by violent force.
Here are a few places to start:
- Network Delaware, in their own words, "is a grassroots and member-led organization of community members, leaders, organizers, and activists who are joining together to bring real, sustainable change to our state." I have personally signed up for a recurring monthly donation & membership, in addition to their newsletter which notifies subscribers of action we can take in our community.
- Several parties who participate with Network Delaware's programs were responsible for the recent historic peaceful protest in Wilmington, and are also running for office in Delaware. These include community organizers & Wilmington City Council Candidates Coby Owens & Shané Darby (who is also the founder of Black Mothers in Power), and Delaware State Representative Candidate Madinah Wilson-Anton. Vote for and support them and their work, even if they don’t win the elections. You can also split a donation to multiple Black Progressive Democrats running for office (some of whom were already listed above) here.
- That peaceful protest was #NotJustAProtest--you can go the website the organizers set up to donate to the organizing effort, view the policy agenda and keep up with local calls to action here.
- Additionally, you could consider supporting the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Delaware, ACLU of Delaware, YWCA Delaware, or the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice, all of which advocate for racial and social justice in our community.
I have always been open to helping other business owners, but I want to be specific here: if you are a Black business owner or aspiring business owner and have no other sounding board, someone to ask, or just want another ear or opinion, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to help you. I’m no expert still, but I will share what I’ve learned and the resources that I have, especially but not limited to questions regarding licensing requirements, events in and around Delaware, Shopify, spreadsheets, social media, whatever. Just ask.
Lastly, some housekeeping:
Part of the reason it's been so long since you heard from me is that after concluding the last holiday season, I decided to change my career trajectory. I still plan to work on Made to Meander, and have no plans to close in the near future, but my plans have shifted due to re-aligning my career with changed and future goals. Made to Meander is now a part-time endeavor of mine. I've been working on just tying up some loose ends, condensing my efforts, and pivoting my strategy. I have since started a new part-time job, and will soon be transitioning that into a full-time job in the non-profit sector. I wanted to have something more concrete before making any announcements, so here we are.
Because of this, I have made the sad decision to withdraw from my space at Building Character, effective immediately... as in I already moved out. Please continue to visit them, as I will. They have been good to me, and I hope you will find the magic there that I did. There continue to be so many amazing artists, antiquers (is that even a word?), and small business owners there, and they just re-opened on June 5th so go show them some love.
Also, I will no longer be doing any shows until further notice, between the transition to a full time job and remaining safety concerns due to COVID-19. I’m tentatively still on board for the The Pennsylvania Christmas & Gift Show but I will keep you all updated if anything changes.
I am currently focusing my energy on my new job, but keep an eye out for updates. Please continue to reach out as needed. In the meantime and beyond, keep fighting for a better world.