Our Commitment to Support Racial Justice and Fight Inequality
The violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery in the hands of police officers and vigilantes has triggered a nationwide reckoning of racial injustice in our country. A reckoning of the constant suffering of our Black citizens in a society that does not recognize their rights and their lives as equal to non-blacks.
In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, like many of you, we were filled with a mix of sadness, anger, despair and outrage. We, as an organization and as individuals, felt that we had to say something, that disapproving privately and staying silent publicly was not an option. That the very first step is to show up, to stand and be counted in the ranks of those who care, who say Enough is enough, Black lives matter. Silence is absence, and we need to be present. If we can use our social network and reach our followers and customers to encourage as many as possible to show up and be counted, then we will do so assuredly.
We have been reading, watching and listening, trying to understand better what it means to grow up and live as a Black person in America, and how we built a profoundly unjust system. We looked for those testimonies, reports and essays that can help us understand better the nature, scale and consequences of the inherent bias against Black people; how racism and prejudice are built into our institutions, from education to the workforce, to policing and the justice system. This is only the start of a continuing journey to understand the Black experience and become an ally for change; a journey we're unquestionably committed to.
No Man Walks Alone has always been a collection of progressive individuals, and our organization has always been composed of a diverse array of personalities, backgrounds and ethnicities. But this is a time of reckoning. Understanding that simply not being racist is not enough. While that does no harm, it doesn’t do enough to reverse centuries of efforts building a society where the deck is stacked against people of color, a society where simply going about your everyday life is tainted with fear of being judged, stopped, pulled over or detained for no other reason than the color of your skin. A society where Black lives are not valued the same as non-black lives.
We can no longer just not be a racist organization, we need to become actively antiracist. Time to take actions to help effect change. Time to dedicate resources and time to actively support and fund organizations and movements that further an antiracist agenda across the board - from policy making to helping those the system abuses and incarcerates unjustly. It's time for actions. Inspired by our friend Niyi Okuboyejo's recent writings on Instagram, we're not aiming at finding definite SOLUTIONS, a word that implies an impossible end, but we're looking at concrete RESOLUTIONS to advance towards true progress.
As a team, we reflected and discussed how to act, and we decided to implement the following resolutions:
1. Financially support antiracist movements and policy changes, with monthly donations totaling $15,000 per year
• The Bail Project (reduce incarceration, reform an unjust bail system)
• Black Lives Matter (build local power in Black communities, combat white supremacy)
• NAACP Legal Defense Fund (help with litigation and defense)
• Campaign Zero (promote public policy, specifically policing reform)
We're continuing to monitor these organizations and we may decide to reallocate our donations, without reducing our commitment
2. Create a donation matching program to amplify your own efforts - up to $10,000 per year
• When you donate to one of those organizations, send your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will match 100% of your donation ourselves
3. Support black-owned brands and designers in our store - our 15% Pledge
• The message and mission of 15% Pledge is resonating with us and we want to commit to these objectives
• We pledge to buy at least 15% of our inventory from black-owned brands within two seasons
• We pledge to dedicate at least 15% of our marketing efforts and budget to promote said black-owned brands
4. Mentoring program for new Black designers and black-owned brands
• Help young black designers launch or grow their project through mentoring and business advice
• Offer our showroom space as a place to show their work, collections or meet buyers
• Help make meaningful connections in the fashion industry
5. Continue to operate an inclusive, multiracial, diverse work environment, with equal opportunities for all
• We must add that we are still a small company and only employ a handful of employees, so we are not yet able to offer new employment opportunities
What has been built must be taken apart, rethought and rebuilt. It will take a tremendous effort, unwavering will, and commensurate resources and time to dismantle and rebuild our racially unjust institutions. It will take more than a vote or election, but that’s a step. It will take more than a donation, but that’s a step. It will take more than reading and learning, but that’s a step. It will take more than standing up and calling out racist behavior, but that’s a step. It will take more than our lifetime, but let’s take those steps now.
Let’s all commit to actively be antiracist through our words and our actions, starting today.
Equal justice under law. Enough is enough. Black lives matter.