Let's talk about race (part 2)
It's been a month since I delivered a talk about race to a group of local women entrepreneurs here in Santa Cruz. The experience was profound for me and an effort that took my whole heart. I didn't anticipate the emotions it would stir up before and since, particularly the fear. Not a fear of public speaking (thanks high school debate!), but rather a fear of speaking in public about such a vital and challenging issue. Fear of being socially penalized for 'going there'. Fear of being seen as playing the race card. I interpret the fear to mean that I am doing something that holds deep meaning and consequence, for myself and others. The nerves are a sign that I am alive to something that needs to be expressed, and thankfully feedback from so many in the All Hands community and beyond corroborates this.
I wanted to give you an update on how my evolving understanding of race is influencing my thinking and decision making as a business owner.
1. I'm actively recruiting more teachers of color. A truly diverse cohort of teachers at All Hands has been a goal of mine since day 1, but I'm ramping up my efforts to bring more Indigenous, Latinx and Black makers to the studio. If you know of any that may want to share their creative skills here, please let me know!
2. I'm in the initial stages of a conversation with the Santa Cruz City Department of Economic Development and the Downtown Association about how to increase and support business owners of color in Santa Cruz.
3. Seeds are being planted for the creation of an alliance of local craft businesses to support each other in a variety of ways, including how to address the craft industry's diversity deficit. (Please check out Jen Hewett's amazing highlight about this on her Instagram feed.)
4. I am trusting that many individuals (and families) who hold white privilege in Santa Cruz will empower themselves to reflect on their racial socialization and continue taking mindful, deliberate and humble steps to be a part of the conversation and become protagonists of change. I'm witnessing this happen in the White Fragility study circle I joined recently that's being facilitated by the Race Equity Trainers Network. Last Thursday I was in a room of close to 20 white people (and a few people of color) all learning to articulate how their racial identity has shaped their life. It was heartening to witness white people willing to 'go there'. As a business owner of color whose clientele is majority white, I must trust that this openness and willingness to learn and stretch are present.
5. I'm on the lookout for "possibility models" - other brands and businesses that are consistently and thoughtfully weaving discussions about race and social justice into their message and offerings. One inspiring example is Grace Bonney of the blog Design*Sponge and more recently the magazine Good Company. Are there any (for profit or non-profit) individuals/organizations that you follow that you think are doing this well? If so, do share!
6. My lovely friend Lenea Sims and I are hatching a plan to hold a gathering at All Hands to explore as a community the connections between race, creativity, mindfulness and mental health. Would you be interested in attending? If yes, what questions or ideas would you love to see addressed?
Thank you so much if you made it this far. Not every love letter will be this abundant, but I felt moved to share what I've been processing as of late.
PS. Speaking of abundance, check out the remainder of the October lineup and what's in store for November! Or should I say 'Sew-vember'?! 🧵
PPS. This conversation between Ta-Nehisi Coates and Krista Tippet is excellent.
PPPS. All Hands turned 1 last weekend!