You may be wondering what a kids' resale store has to do with race. You may even be annoyed that a white small business owner feels the need to share her "political views" or insert herself into an issue that doesn't concern her. If that's the case, you might stop reading now. But I hope that most of the people reading this will, at the very least, be willing to hear what I have to say. Because it does concern me. It concerns all of us.
I (Melissa) have spoken with a few different Black friends about what's been going on, and I've listened to what many more Black friends and public figures have shared on social media. Of course, everyone has different takes on the situation, and no one can be expected to represent the opinion of an entire group. But one thing seems pretty consistent: they want their non-Black allies to speak up. Being silent, or posting on social media about other things (pets, nature, cute insects on our window screens), is a glaring reminder of our privilege. We white people have the option to think about other things besides racial injustice. For Black people, they can't just turn it off. So the least I can do as a white person is say something. And as someone who benefits from the white supremacy built into this country, I'm in a place of privilege and can -- must -- use my voice to demand change.
This post in itself won't change anything. But it adds to the chorus of voices who are speaking up. Something is happening right now, and everyone is aware of it largely because so many people are speaking up. So speaking up does have an impact, but it's not enough in itself.
We need to be actively anti-racist, every day. We need to constantly check our own biases and call them out, constructively, when we see them in others. We need to have respectful conversations, especially with people we don't normally engage with around "sensitive" topics. We need to give people the benefit of the doubt and recognize that progress takes time. We need to talk to our kids about these issues and raise them to be anti-racist themselves.
Here are a few resources that I want to share immediately. There will be more to come -- this conversation is just getting started. But these are either directly relevant to me personally or to what we do as a business.
- Raising Multicultural Kids is a local group doing important anti-racism work here in Easton. If you’re wondering what you can do to support racial justice causes and help raise anti-racist kids, this is a great place to start. We'll be supporting their fundraiser to purchase anti-racist books for the Easton school system and will share more information about that soon.
- DJ Henry Dream Fund is an Easton nonprofit and scholarship fund honoring the life of DJ Henry, an Oliver Ames graduate who was killed by police in 2010.
- A good friend and classmate, Donovan Ervin, recently published this powerful piece about his personal experiences with everyday racism. This is a must-read for understanding the true impact of seemingly small misunderstandings and micro-aggressions. (There is some "colorful" language, just so you know before sharing with kids.)
- Having worked in the nonprofit space for many years, I feel strongly that donating money, not just time or materials, is one of the most impactful ways to support a cause. I recently set up recurring monthly donations to two grassroots nonprofits, both founded by amazing Black women friends of mine, that advocate for racial justice: Free Soil Arts Collective (amplifying underrepresented artists in the Merrimack Valley) and NOIR Labs (inspiring and operationalizing Black liberation worldwide). I encourage you to find nonprofits that resonate with you and make an ongoing financial commitment to support them.
- Similarly, it's important to give our business to Black-owned companies. A couple of my favorites are Fusion Dolls (a multicultural doll maker founded by a Haitian-American social worker, Widline, and based in Easton/Brockton) and Welcome Preemie (a clothing company for premature babies founded by a NICU nurse, Shauna, and based in Boston).
- Advocate for policies that prioritize anti-racism. Register to vote and vote in all elections -- local, state, and national.
- Finally, to tie it back to this business rather than just being a space for my own personal musings -- there are so many resources out there for teaching kids about anti-racism. But above all, remember that racism is learned and must be actively un-learned. The Conscious Kid is a great organization with lots of educational information and an awesome Instagram page.
And please, whatever you do, don't stay silent.