I’ve written and rewritten this post at least a dozen times over the last week.
In the past, I’ve reserved this space for “joyful” things. That was part of the reason why I stopped blogging last year. When I lost my mom and dad within 10 months of each other, it felt inauthentic to continue posting when I could barely get through the day. I told myself that people wanted cheerful posts about interiors, not personal dialogue unpacking grief and loss.
I (wrongly) thought that politics fell into that same bucket.
But after watching the events over the last two weeks, my eyes have been opened to the systematic and institutionalized racism that is terrorizing Black communities in this country. They are in agony. They are asking us–pleading with us-–to pay attention, to speak up, to join them in fighting for their lives.
It’s clear now: this isn’t a political issue. It’s a humanitarian one.
And it’s been going on right in front us for hundreds of years. White supremacy is woven into the very fabric of this country, and we are all complicit. As a white woman, I am just now understanding how true that statement is. I am waking up to the racial injustice that has been going on in front of me all along. I’m ashamed it took me this long, and I’m deeply sorry to my Black followers, friends, and partners for not being more vocal on these issues in the past. I was wrong.
If you’d asked me a few months ago, I would have absolutely told you that I was an ally. In building my business, I’ve made a conscious effort to work with BIPOC partners — 33% of my vendors are BIPOC, and of this, 19% are Black. I’ve worked with many of the same vendors since I started my business in 2015, and a big part of what brings me joy as an entrepreneur is growing those relationships alongside my own business.
But I’ve fallen short. This is not enough.
It’s not enough to be against racism. Going forward, I am committing myself to the work of becoming anti-racist.
The Ongoing Work
To be an anti-racist is to actively commit to dismantling the structures and institutions that perpetuate racism. In order to truly make a difference, anti-racism work needs to be woven into every white person’s dialogue, actions, and thought patterns. Dismantling our broken systems–which rely on white supremacy–isn’t going to be easy. And this work needs to happen on every level, for every American. It starts with each of us.
After spending the last few weeks listening and learning (and frankly, unlearning), here’s where I’m at:
1. Pause, listen, and learn
- Seek first to understand — This is a time for action, but this is also a time to listen. Reading articles and thought pieces, following diverse voices, consuming media from people who don’t look exactly like me — this is key to enriching my understanding of the world with new points of view. And above all, when a Black person tells me about their lived experience in this world, I will believe them.
- Dedicating time and space to my own continuing re-education — Systematic racism, structural inequity, mass incarceration… these are complex topics. They’re going to take time to truly understand and unpack. I am committed to studying the complex systems of racism in our country through any means necessary. Though Black leaders have risen up to help lead the discussion, I know that ultimately this is my work to do and own.
- Recognizing and checking my own privilege — It’s important to acknowledge my privilege as a white woman in the white-dominated space of design. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had to struggle. It just means that my race has never been the reason I’ve felt pain. I want to bring that self-awareness into my work as a mother, designer, and as a business owner.
2. Move forward, even if it’s imperfectly
- Taking a stand is critical — Talking about these things publicly is critical. It de-stigmatizes the hard conversations we’re going to have to have with partners, with customers, with our employees, with our children, and families. It’s raw, and real and HARD. That’s why I’m sharing my process here with you, in the hope that it can help you with your own.
- This happens IRL — Much of this work will take place offline, in ongoing conversations with relatives, in the language I use with my children, and in how I commit to running my business going forward. While I’ve learned more from Instagram about racial injustice in the past two weeks than I ever thought I would, it’s important to carry that change out into my community and into my daily life.
3. Keep going
- I’m going to get it wrong — Talking about racism is uncomfortable. But my discomfort will no longer take precedence over black lives. In diving deep into this work, I will likely stumble. But part of my commitment to be anti-racist is to show up, again and again. It’s about progress over perfection.
- The biggest impact on the cause is continual commitment — Protesting on the frontlines, voting, calling elected officials, engaging with local government, reading, educating, volunteering, donating, diversifying media consumption. I celebrate people in whatever way they’re able to show up right now, and we should all recognize that it’s going to be different for everyone. I will be investing time, resources and money in those areas that I can sustain over the long term and that I believe will bring the biggest impact to my local community.
My plan of action as a business owner
I believe design should be a refuge — inclusive for all, and encompassing of every human experience. In order for people to feel at home in this space, I am committed to building an equitable anti-racist organization.
To put it simply: we at Britt Interiors and The Vintage Rug Shop stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and will do everything in our power to dismantle the structures that support white supremacy in this country.
Beyond that, we recognize our privilege and influence within our local community and social design spheres. We will use that privilege to engage deeply with anti-racism work, and to make it a core tenet of our business in how we buy, hire, and operate going forward.
Our public commitments to Anti-Racism
- We will support the work of Black artists, vendors, and manufacturers in sourcing for our design projects at Britt Interiors and for The Vintage Rug Shop. We are committed to conducting quarterly audits of where/how we are spending our money, and re-allocating to BIPOC businesses as necessary.
- As of June 2020, 33% of our vendors are BIPOC, and of this, 19% are Black.
- Over the next 2 years, we are committed to increasing this to 40% and 25% respectively.
- We will vet our partners and vendors, choosing to work with those that adhere to anti-racist policies.
- We aim to create a workplace environment that is conducive to conversations about race and culture. This will be a non-negotiable part of our quarterly planning, and we are proactively looking for ways to make this part of our continuous organizational learning as a team. These will not be one-off annual trainings, but ongoing discourse around how we can lean more into our identity as an anti-racist organization.
- As we grow our team, we will be aligning with hiring best practices focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This policy also extends to our work with contractors and freelancers.
- We will use our platform to share and uplift Black voices and experiences. On the Britt Interiors blog and on our social channels, we will be focusing on creating content that amplifies the work of Black artists, makers, and creatives.
- We have a no tolerance policy on hateful and racist comments on our blog or social channels. If it is rooted in oppression, it is not an opinion, it is hate speech, and we will delete it in order to create a safer online space for BIPOC.
- We will be donating on a quarterly basis to local organizations fighting racial injustice.I acknowledge that I’m still learning (a privilege in and of itself), and so I plan to revisit and revise these policies as my team and I engage with this work more deeply.
It doesn’t stop here
While we’ll slowly start shifting back to design content here, I will not be moving on from this work or from these conversations as the news cycle turns over. This is just the start.
Real, sustained change starts with each of us. And I’m going to do everything in my power to ensure that I continue this work in my own re-education, in crucial conversations with loved ones, and in running my business going forward.
In that spirit, I would love to hear from each of you (via DM, email, comment, whatever is most comfortable). What is one thing you’ve learned in the last week?
I’m here. I’m listening.