I have been extremely silent on my business channels over the past week or so. Not for any kind of lack of support, but just due to being so consumed by current events that my business in general has been far from a priority and I had not thought of the audience I can access and influence.
And on that note, this is written with solidarity in mind and aimed at the non-black POC and white people which make up the vast majority of my customer base.
I thought I got it as a teenager. I didn’t. I thought I got it as a young adult, but even then I had only scratched the surface. I have made sure I get it now and will continue to do the work needed.
I have listened, I have learned, I have amplified black voices and now I must speak and take action and demand you do the same. I may get bits wrong- but it’s better to make a mistake, be corrected and learn from it than to sit by enabling injustice.
Like many others I was dealing my own issues in my personal life in this midst of this pandemic as news of yet another death of yet another unarmed black man, George Floyd, spread across the world. However having taken (possibly too much) time to reflect, I can recognise that my personal suffering is valid while still acknowledging it is negligible to the suffering experienced by black people in society. Not that I can ever truly understand this suffering, but I understand enough to know there is no comparison.
I don’t share this to make it about myself, but because this is the excuse for a lack of action I have heard the most. This is not to say everyone is capable, but that there are many ways to help all requiring different levels of attention, effort and emotional toll. We need the discomfort, but make no doubt about it you must also look after yourself too if you want to be around to do something about the discomfort.
While my mind was overwhelmed, I did the best to use my actions: listening, learning, reflecting, signing, sharing, talking, donating and now this.
I have been trying to think of how I can help, and really help. There are many posts and ideas on how to use your privilege and I have debated long and hard over the best way to use mine. If we are being very real, I am just a brown kid from a life of affluence who is struggling for financial independence amidst a fog of mental illness and trauma. My problems are very valid, but my privilege is also very real and I must use it.
Again I don’t share this to make this about me, but in the hopes you’ll take the journey to this perspective.
So now I have come to terms with this and pulled myself together what can I do?
In a capitalist society money makes the most noise, thankfully it is also something I am privileged with access to and now hope to utilise effectively.
While I can survive if I close my shop for a bit and encourage donations instead, it does not seem effective. People will go elsewhere and I will have less money to donate to causes that are working to implement the tangible change that needs to happen.
I cannot be an effective ally if I shoot myself in the foot. This is not a time for hero complexes, but a time for persistent collective efforts across the entire world.
So instead here is what I’m going to do for the remainder of the month:
I ask that you refrain from making purchases from me where possible (i.e. anything that isn’t needed) and use your money to donate and support black businesses. We are still in lockdown and I don’t see any real need for anyone to upgrade their jewellery right now.
I have had a sale planned for the first weekend of July since the start of the year which I still expect to go ahead. I ask that anyone wanting new jewellery creates a Wishlist to buy items reduced then. It’ll be a new month with new money. For now please focus your attention where it’s needed and spend your disposable income (and what you will save in the sale) with black businesses.
There will undoubtedly be people who still want to and still will buy from me, so for the rest of the month all purchases will have a 20% fee added, all of which shall be donated to BLMUK, Black Minds Matter UK & Exist Loudly as lump sums at the end of the month.
On top of this I will of course be donating on a personal level from profits made on the orders themselves and my July sale. I was just going to do donate myself at first, but as I said this is about persistent collective efforts and I feel with this along with a small change to each and every customer can make us all part of a bigger contribution.
Whether you want it to or not, when you buy for me some of your money will go to supporting the black community both in the UK and worldwide.
To the people who will tell me they can’t afford this fee: go back to the part about asking you not to spend with me this month if it’s not necessary. If you have to choose between buying from me and donating, please donate.
Jewellery is a luxury, the right to feel safe should not be.
If you have already donated please email me with proof and the fee will be waived if you want (but if you can afford to donate again through your purchase then please do).
I know this will make buying from me harder but it all just reinforces this point for me: It is not enough to be not racist. You need to be anti racist.
For any frustrated customers who may just be trying to treat themselves during these ‘unprecedented times’, please hear me when I say your frustration is focused on the wrong thing. This issue needs to be inescapable and it is up to ALL of us to make it so.
This isn’t a statement of support. This is a statement of action and I implore you to take action too.