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June 08, 2020
As a small business owner and maker, personal life and work are almost fully intertwined for me. Until now, I held my personal views closer to my chest for fear of alienating others. But the more I learn about social injustice, the more I realize I cannot stand in silence any longer. Having poured over the real stories and hardships of our Black community, I now understand that the livelihoods of others depend on my voice, and all of our voices. I have been ignorant and complacent for too long and its time to make some changes.
Here’s my commitment. It is not a checklist that can be completed as we all move on "business as usual". This is a launchpad that will be built upon in the coming months and years. There is so much work to be done and I have only just begun.
I’m committed to furthering my own education on oppression and social justice and sharing what I learn. This can’t/won’t end at following a few Black Instagram accounts, reading a book, and watching a few movies. I’m making it a personal daily practice. I will listen and learn and take action in my community for system reform. And I will share resources I find helpful through my business Instagram stories and highlights.
I will look for ways to support Black-owned businesses. Much like you “vote” with your dollars when choosing small businesses and independent makers, I need to look at the vendors I currently have in place to confirm that their values are in line with mine. I will also seek to amplify and collaborate with BIPOC makers and other small business owners.
I will seek BIPOC perspectives and showcase more diversity in my content and photography. Many of the photos traditionally shown on dog-centric brand accounts do not include people, but that is something I’d like to do differently. I want to highlight the special connection between dogs and their humans, and will look to do so with increased diversity and inclusion.
I will continue to support and donate to PAW Team, a non-profit organization that provides free veterinary care and supplies for the pets of people who are experiencing homelessness or living in extreme poverty. While those living in extreme poverty do not have a lot of money to spend on veterinary care, they love their animals just as much as anyone else and sometimes even more. Which is why I believe PAW Team's mission is so critical.
I will donate funds to support specific social justice causes and look for opportunities to volunteer with BIPOC initiatives. My husband and I have an ongoing membership to the ACLU, and I have donated funds for immediate relief to local Portland-based Black initiatives.
As a final note, I want to offer my deep gratitude for the patience of so many Black and BIPOC leaders that have provided resources and information to the community. It is not your job to educate those of us that are late to this movement and your work is appreciated.
I saw someone recently compare this social justice awakening that many of us white women have had to showing up an hour late for class. You shouldn’t come in, announce to everyone that you have arrived, and ask the professor to catch you up on what you’ve missed while everyone that is already there waits. Instead, you probably slide in and try to catch up as quickly as possible on your own while you continue to listen to the existing lecture. I thought that was a helpful way to remember that we’ve got a lot (like A LOT) of catch up homework to do in understanding oppression and systemic racism.
I'm prepared to do the work. Are you?
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