This past week, we took a pause on our regular marketing plan in order to stand with our Black coworkers, cooperators, and community members in light of the murder of George Floyd.
When we posted on our social media accounts that Black Lives Matter, we were shocked at the number of defensive responses we received. Recognizing the number of our own member-owners and customers who felt threatened and misunderstood this concept of equity, we wanted to help dig into the root cause of this and to move forward with a renewed sense of cooperation.
As a community owned consumer cooperative, we are bound to operate by the 7 Cooperative Principles.
- Open and Voluntary Membership
- Democratic Member Control
- Members' Economic Participation
- Autonomy and Independence
- Education, Training, and Information
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives
- Concern for Community
The commitment to these principles is typically met through how we buy and sell food, but we had to take a hard look at ourselves and our work around the idea of concern for community, when once again our Black community continues to experience national trauma as a result of deeply ingrained systemic racism. How can we truly live out our commitment with concern for community while quietly allowing mistreatment of People of Color (POC)?
Our social media reset was step one. We spent this week sharing our resources to begin the real work of standing up. Next, we are going to work to build anti-racism awareness and education into our hiring practices and newsletters going forward. This year, we are going to work on the following things and report out on our progress:
- Offer anti-racist materials and training for staff
- Use our customer donation platform, Chip In, to always include at least one organization that is doing equity work in our rotation
- Host public artwork by POC
- Share works that emphasize the work of POC in the cooperative and food justice sectors
- Create a community support task force of staff members who are interested in doing community work to react faster to crises in our community
- Provide our community room (when open) for POC organizers and those doing equity work.
We acknowledge that our silence has made us complicit and our apathy has supported the continuation of systems of oppression against Black people. We are shamefully new to this targeted work and will be open to learning how we can do better for our Black and non-Black POC cooperators, friends and community.
For our member-owners and followers who felt the prickle of defensiveness to our focus on anti-racism; Today can be the day to take a minute, read articles written by POC with an open heart and mind, imagine a world with equity for all people. Even if you begin now, there’s never a bad time to start advocating for your friends, neighbors and community.