✨ Hey there, friend! ✨
Welcome back to our little email space for reflection and sharing, the old-school way (peace out Social Media!)! If you missed our last email… you can read it here and catch up on our new philosophy about communication and keeping in touch with you!
So, what's been on my mind this month? Well, do you remember back in 2020 when we hung our Black Lives Matter chalkboard in the window at Fillaree? It was shortly after Minneapolis police murdered George Floyd and during the height of the BLM movement’s surge across the US. I can remember a palpable feeling during that time: an emotional soup made up of discomfort, fear, shame, and disgust on top of an intense activation and motivation to do something, anything, that I could to support the Black and Brown members of my community. That was an intense year or so of active anti-racism work and dialogue - sometimes quiet and intimate, others screaming at the top of my lungs with a bunch of strangers. I definitely wasn’t alone. Other businesses, both tiny and huge, were making efforts to join the BLM movement.
As time passed, we renovated and rearranged our storefront more than once, and that chalkboard shifted from the window to other homes around Fillaree - further and further from our front door. It’s always been present but lost its placement on the front lines. We can’t help but recognize the greater metaphor there - it seems BLM has moved to the background on many levels, everywhere.
But that shift isn’t because the fight is over. It’s far from over, and we have so much more work to do in this arena. In conversations with Black and Brown business owners in our community, I keep hearing from them that the flame is dwindling… the intense community support that spiked (in the form of dollars spent on their services and wares) in 2020 has diminished considerably, and as a fellow small business I know that makes it hard to stay in business. Our margins are low and expenses are high - every customer counts toward our success or failure!
As I’ve been in deep reflection about this, a few things have floated to the top for me:
- We’ve gotten complacent again (myself included) – it’s a privilege to be complacent, and it’s a comfortable place when you're benefiting from white privilege. Complacency is a huge part of the problem.
- I'm not always going to get it right. Showing up as a white person being actively anti-racist means working against years of white supremacy programming, internalized racism, and unconscious biases, as well as recognizing and giving up the privileges that come with whiteness, which are so ingrained in our existence that we often don’t see them unless we’re really looking and open to others pointing it out to us.
- Willingness to show up and keep showing up, even though we might mess up. At those times, being able to see and hear those impacts, and change accordingly, is the only option. It may never get more “comfortable”, but this is necessary discomfort is the only way to give future generations a chance at being born into a more equitable world where this work becomes less and less necessary.
- My community needs me, and so does yours.
At Fillaree, our most important core belief is that individuals taking small actions will have a big impact. It is literally the reason I founded this business. What we do in our homes, from how we treat our planet to how we treat our neighbors, matters. Fillaree has been committed to building a diverse community with voices from many different lived experiences, both on our team and in our Refiller community. And in order to continue this important work we do, we have to recommit ourselves to fighting the systemic racism that continues to haunt this country. While our mission may seem on the surface to be centered around environmental impact, the roots of environmental justice are tangled and intertwined with the racial injustice on which this country is built.
Here are some questions we’re posing to ourselves in order to facilitate our renewed focus on this work and we invite you to do this work alongside us from your corner of the world.
- When was the last time you made a decision to get out of your comfort zone and stand up for someone less privileged than yourself?
- The most important step is always the next one. What next right thing can you do to make an impact for another person?
- Have you been paying attention to (and eliminating) individual and systemic micro and macro aggressions that hold others in systems of oppression?
- Knowing what to do in a moment of discomfort is very challenging, especially if it is a surprise (which it often is when you’re complacent in your privilege). What’s one thing you can put on a personal action plan for such moments so that you might respond more intentionally? For me, I am practicing active apologies in those moments of discomfort - which involves first really listening with the goal of understanding how I’ve caused harm, how and if that can be repaired, acknowledging that harm out loud, and most importantly stating how I will move forward in a changed way to avoid causing that kind of harm again in the future (and then, of course, doing that)
- Are there minority-owned businesses that you can show more support for? Have you supported local non-profits doing life-affirming work in communities of color? Who are they and when will you prioritize helping them succeed with your purchases and contributions?
This month we brought our Black Lives Matter chalkboard back to the front of the Fillaree storefront. It’s not only an important signifier to our community, but it’s a reminder to walk our talk, even if we stumble over our feet and our words along the way. If we fall, let us fall in the direction of revolution and liberation, toward true freedom for all. We’re all in this together, let’s stop sliding back!