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Move from Education to Action in support of Black Lives Matter

I can read all the books on racism and equity I want; I can post my outrage on social media; I can take my family to a march; and, I can put up a BLM yard sign….but, all of those acts keep the ball in my court, the focus on me. Those acts also stay in the realm of education not change. The time has truly come for us to move that ball forward, to become a true ally, in dismantling systemic racism, toward lasting transformation.

Over the past few weeks, we have seen some businesses do the right thing, make the right next step in affecting systems change. We have also seen businesses falter or fail: they have relied on unspecific marketing messages; neglected to accept responsibility where due; and offered hollow commitments moving forward.

In what ways can we move, ourselves and our businesses, from education to action?

1. Donate to/fund black-led organizations.

2. Don’t just post, act: if you post marketing content in support of BLM, make sure you also take responsibility for previous communications and actions that isolated black staff, customers or communities and/or identify clear actions that you are taking to move the work forward.

3. Move from diversity to equity: don’t just hire people of color, truly reconsider how your organization and leadership create space for equitable participation. Can you cede leadership? How can there be more community voice in your design? Where will you invest in impactful training?

4. Draw a hard line: share your expectations of what it means to act and exist as an anti-racist organization, with your staff and your customers….and then act when those expectations are not met.

5. Burn it all down: I’m grabbing this headline from our friends at Drygoods Design, who just posted an honest assessment of how they can move their business forward. In short: they accept that it isn’t enough for them to simply support more black-owned businesses, they need to start over, by re-designing their entire business from the ground up, to “ensure that the framework, structure and policies at Drygoods are recreated with anti-racism at the forefront”.

6. Commit to the long haul and have a plan in place to keep the momentum going.

I launched Big Lil Seattle to tell the real stories of our city’s small businesses and small non-profits. However, I also launched this project to enable our city’s small organizations to move forward more strongly and confidently, through COVID and beyond.

1. As part of that commitment, I will continue to dig into resources and action points that can move us, as consumers and leaders, from yard signs to allyship and change.

2. I will continue to elevate the stories of business/organizations designed and run by people of color and other traditionally marginalized communities. And I will look to them to identify the story they want to tell and the changes they want to see.

3. I will take responsibility: if I fail in our own design, approach or communications, I ask that hold you me accountable. Over the years, I have made mistakes and acted from a place of my own privilege. But I have been able to grow in my own understanding and practice because people have called me out and worked with me to improve my own approach.

4. Share your own resources with me:

These articles and the countless posts to Linkedin by my community helped me consider my commitments moving forward:

10 Ways Orgs Can Show Up for Black Lives Without Exploiting 'Black Lives Matter

When black people are in pain, white people just join book clubs

About Big Lil Seattle

Big Lil Seattle launched to share the stories on how Seattle’s small businesses and small non-profits are REALLY fairing in this COVID era: how they’re impacted, pivoting, and planning for next steps. Perhaps, most importantly, we also identify clear steps on how we can all help. 

Big Lil Seattle is a project of The Big Lil, which offers big solutions to help grow your small business or non-profit.

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