This is the content of an email originally sent to my list
I stared at the blinking cursor for quite a while before starting this email because what we say and do right now is really important. What we say and do right now has the potential to impact millions of lives. And by we, I do mean me and all of my white friends reading this email.
If you are a POC you’re welcome to skip this email. I’m sending you love, hoping you find some moments of peace. I want you to know that I am here to listen and be educated if you want to respond. But I am also here to educate myself and do the work.
It’s important to speak up + take action as humans because people of color (POC) have been subject to daily reminders that they are less than, that they are unsafe, that they are not cared for hundreds of years.
And it’s important to speak up + take action as business owners because we are leaders of our communities. People are watching how (and if) we respond, they are listening to and trusting what we say.
Black people are spending their money with you, they are trusting you, they are supporting you. You cannot take their money, their attention, their engagement and then ignore their experience.
Which is why I’m sending this massive email. It’s not just about black lives, it’s about how those lives intersect with our businesses and the way we show up as business owners in regards to POC in our communities.
I’m hearing a lot of people say they don’t know what to say, but it’s time to be done with that.
Google will give you a million articles to read, Amazon will send you a million books, black people are constantly telling their stories. If you can build a business I know that you can take an hour to understand some of what’s happening and why it’s happening and learn how to speak about it.
I understand why you feel scared to post. I know that my posts on Instagram may receive negative responses whether that’s from white people feeling defensive or black people calling me to do better, but I post them anyway. You will survive a tough conversation or a quick education.
Things that I’m seeing that ARE NOT helping:
- White people talking about their own feelings: Understanding our privilege can be painful, having businesses looted and burned is painful and scary as hell, but not as painful as losing a loved one. Donations, insurance, rebuilding do not bring murdered people back, which means livelihood and LIFE are not equal. Which is why ours are not the stories to focus on right now.
- Quotes being posted without info on how to help: Whether you intend it or not, this is using black peoples words to make us feel like we’re doing something. This is too easy and we can do more.
- White business leaders with larger audiences not saying a damn thing: Remind them that people are listening, you are paying them, black people are paying them, they DO have a responsibility.
- People only sharing to their IG stories and not to their feed: Leave a permanent mark of your anger and support.
- Tone policing: Telling black people to be nicer, less emotional, or shutting them down when they respond to your posts, questions, comments. Many of the black women I follow are sharing that they are SCARED and HURT, so if you want to understand and create change your job is to listen.
Things that I’m seeing that ARE helping:
- White people talking about where they’ve gone wrong and can do better: Having more black voices on their podcasts, following more black business owners, referring more black business owners, buying from more black business owners.
- Reposting content from black people who are sharing their experiences + what we as white people need to be doing – example of how to do this here (also watch Rachel’s video while you’re there).
- Business leaders helping their audience understand how to respond, create content + sell during this time. (Edit since I received a question on this one: We should be showing our audiences how to keep showing up in our businesses during a time like this. I think (and I’m seeing) a lot of people either freeze and do nothing or keep posting as usual and I think there’s a balance between keeping a business running and participating as an ally/activist as we work to create more inclusive businesses and communities. I’m obviously pausing a lot of what I usually post because I can, but I know many businesses are still in the feast and famine phase and a hard pause can be detrimental.)
- Letting your IG feed be messy because you are mad and not taking a back seat.
I realize all these recommendations come through my lens of white privilege, so if you disagree and/or think I can do better/different I’m open to hearing from you.
If this email brings up negative feelings that make you want to tell me off + hit unsubscribe.
1. You can, the unsubscribe link is at the bottom of this email, you don’t have to announce your exit.
But 2. I’m willing to have a conversation with you about why I think these things are important – hit reply, I’m here.
If you are a white person and have the energy it’s important that you are open to tough comments and tough conversations too. Educate yourself so that you can have them with your audience, friends, family.
Here is how I’m creating content right now (how I’m always creating content) – I’m listening + thinking about what my community needs.
Right now I think that is:
- Sharing resources to help others understand white privilege, the system that keeps racism going strong, and the experiences of black people.
- A reminder to diversify who you follow, feature, purchase from, and share (here is a post to help)
- Speaking up when you’re invited to something (summit, panel, podcast) that features mostly or all white guests
- Showing up myself as an example of posting, speaking, emailing, advocating imperfectly. You are welcome to reshare, recreate posts from my IG feed (no need to credit me) and forward/repost this email. (I’ll also add it as a blog post in a min xosarah.com/blog)
- Showing up with what you know, can think of now, and remembering you can always share more (I’ve read this email 50 times and I know I’ll think of something else once I hit send)
- Being okay with mixing in regular business posts – Anti-racist posts don’t have to be posted instead of your regular content, but along with it.
Books I’ve read that helped me understand my privilege and feel confident talking about this stuff:
These are Amazon links because you can get a Kindle book on-demand. If you prefer a printed book please use https://www.indiebound.org/ to find a local / indie book seller who will ship to you.
- So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo (start here – this helped me A TON)
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness – Austin Channing Brown
- This Will Be My Undoing – Morgan Jenkins
Books I’ve been recommended to read next:
- Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor – Layla Saad
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Robin J. DiAngelo
- How to be Anti-Racist – Ibram X. Kendi
- Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene Carruthers
Videos to watch (thank you to @XayliBarclay for creating this)
Lastly a quick reminder that black people are not here to teach us white people – meaning it’s probably not a great time to comment, email, DM asking for resources or clarification. However, they have been creating content, books, podcasts, videos and endless resources for decades and we CAN consume and reshare what they have already created and are continuing to create.
I know that was long and I appreciate you taking the time to read, click, respond, share.
I hope you and your loved ones are safe. I hope you are taking time for self care. I hope this boiling point finally creates change.