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Part II: What we are thinking.

Big Heart Tea Co. stands in solidarity to fight racism.
 
Black Lives Matter.
We wanted to let you in on what we’ve been doing behind the scenes to be better anti-racists every day.

This week, we are sharing intimate thoughts on our personal journey as anti-racists. These are exploratory thoughts that are deeply personal and shared in the spirit of leading with transparency and as potential starting points for others on this journey. We don’t have the answers, but we are committed to the work. Next, we will expand on these thoughts in Part III - What We're Saying.

Big Heart Tea Co.

As a company, we are thinking about how we can authentically support action against racism. How will our small company of five women stand in solidarity with the Black community? How can we partner with industry allies to hold each other accountable? And we are looking at ourselves as a tea company - how we can play into colonial cliches, and how we can do better. 

Lisa Govro, Founder

I cannot stop thinking about missed opportunities and how at the core, my fear of being called out has left me catatonic and full of doubt in the power of my voice. This is a special form of white-fragility that I am looking at. It’s masked as ‘imposter syndrome’ and when I peel back it looks like this:

Me: I have been standing for social justice and marching with Black Lives Matter since 2014. Where were all these people before? Of course, Black Lives Matter.
Me: Look at all of this performative action. Black Lives Matter is not fashion. 
Me: *Watching brands get called out on social media* We are better than them since we haven’t been called out.
Me: Maybe I don’t know enough about my contribution to the system of racism.
Me: I can’t talk about anti-racism because I do not know enough, and if I say something, someone will surely spy my blind spots and call me out.

 

Looking in the mirror, I take a seat and get uncomfortable. I will be called out, and I cannot let this fact stop me from the work. 

This is a humble road for white allies. The deep system of racism has no check and balance. As community consciousness around racism expands, we start to see inequity everywhere. Call-out culture is an important tool in this time, and it is our duty as anti-racists to use all of the tools at our disposal to chip away at the status quo. Remember that your work as a white woman anti-racist is a practice, and that if you do not continue listening and learning, you will be held accountable by your family, friends, co-workers and, as Big Heart’s case would be, customers and suppliers.

As you improve your anti-racist skills, use them to educate and guide those that are misguided - do this humbly. Remember that you have not ‘arrived’ (and you never will), and that everyone is in different stages of their conscious expansion. Always assume best intent and give others the opportunity to change.

 

Kunthearath Nhek-Morrissey, VP Operations and Supply Chain Sustainability

I committed a few weeks ago to listen, learn and engage. I've been reading books, news articles, social feeds, listening to podcasts, and watching the many documentaries such as 13th to be better informed. In conjunction, I've been doing a lot of internal investigation of my own biases, addressing some of my complicit behaviors and missed opportunities to raise my voice when it mattered. 
 
I'm uncertain where to begin to make a difference to help the change other than at this moment, as a family, we're having a lot of frank conversations around inequity, justice, color and Black Lives Matter. I don't know exactly where to start but I'll start from where I am right now because it has to start with us as individuals first before we start to think about anything outside ourselves. I acknowledge as I look inward, that I have work to do, some real work. 
 
We must do the work in order to improve.
Olivia Engel, VP Marketing and Storyteller

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can’t only bring anti-racism to my words or to a march; I have to bring it to every corner of my life, even the unexpected places (or maybe especially the unexpected places). In the wake of recent call-outs of local White women and in organizations of close friends, I’ve ruminated a lot on how supremacy cultures affect workplaces, and how I carry them as a White woman.

What I understand to be “professional” expectations are often things I believe simply from osmosis, tangled up in White supremacy culture. And not only have some of those traits hurt me, but I’m reflecting on how I have most likely hurt Black, Brown, or Indigenous co-workers around me with these default expectations. I’ve perpetuated them by internalizing them.

This was jump-started by reflecting on the list of Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun (I know we already shared a reading list, but I’m a huge nerd — and, more importantly, I don’t feel equipped to share helpful or meaningful thoughts on anti-racism purely on my own). The full list of characteristics is important to read, but here are a few that spoke loudly to me as uncomfortably familiar White supremacist baggage:

Perfectionism

Sense of Urgency

Defensiveness

Fear of Open Conflict

Individualism

I didn’t even realize these were characteristics of White supremacy in our culture — I thought they were a sort of default expectation, or that they were “my problems,” or that they were things that couldn’t be examined on a societal scale.

Now that they’ve been contextualized, though, I can see myself and these characteristics more clearly. And even though that’s uncomfortable, it’s a clarifying, satisfying process — with a lot of ‘now it all makes sense’ kind of moments. We can't have justice if we don't heal, and we can't heal unless we don't slow down, truly listen, say sorry and mean it, and do what it takes to make it right.

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