What a couple of weeks it’s been, you guys. I hope wherever you are that you’re safe and using your voice–and your dollars–to join the movement against police brutality and anti-blackness.
My husband and I have been having some intense conversations. His father (pictured here) is black, and yet my husband has passed as white his whole life. He has clear memories of the NYPD stopping is father and questioning whether he was a kidnapper when they were out alone together (without his white mother to explain the fair skin).
But my husband has never had reason to fear the police in his adult life. He doesn’t watch taxis whiz by him as he tries to hail them. He’s never seen a women cross the street to avoid him. He walks into our children’s school without being hassled by the security guard the way my father-in-law was when he visited Felix’s class. (Note: my own father came into the school on numerous occasions without any trouble.) Our sons will enjoy these same privileges, and unlike his own father, my husband won’t be accused of being a kidnapper when he walks the streets with his children.
As for me, I grew up in Vermont and knew zero black people. I certainly never heard racial slurs or witnessed anything I would call anti-blackness, but racial injustice was simply something we didn’t discuss much. I called my mom after my first week at college and declared that Colgate University was “so diverse.” (I just checked Colgate’s demographics and I see that it’s comprised of 5% black students and 5% black faculty). I was also genuinely surprised that in the cafeteria all the black kids “sat together.” It didn’t occur to me that all the white kids sat together, too. I graduated without one single black friend.
These days, I live in a very white part of Brooklyn, and my kids have just a few black friends, despite their growing up in New York City rather than Vermont. (Yesterday, we took the kids to a peaceful protest for families in our neighborhood that drew a crowd of at least one thousand–I saw at the most five black people.)
Ultimately, I’m reluctantly recognizing that I’ve been operating as if–since marrying a black(ish) guy and having kids with him–I am off the hook regarding my white privilege. No one can accuse me of being a racist, right? This is why learning how to become an become an active anti-racist is both illuminating and shame-inducing; I simply can’t believe how little I’ve really thought about this until now.
One thing I decided I would do right away was use this platform to promote Good Stuff that’s made by black people. There is only one problem with that…While my online store carries brands from almost a hundred small businesses, and we’ve put an intentional emphasis on carrying products from companies with women founders and founders from the LGBTQ community, I failed to recognize that we sell only ONE brand that is owned by a person of color!
I am committed to discovering black-owned businesses that I can promote in our Safe Products Guides and whose products we might carry in our online store. We’ve identified the following brands of personal care, cleaning products, and super-food brands that are black-owned and natural/eco-friendly/toxin-free:
- Plant Apothecary
- Hanahana Beauty
- The Honey Pot
- Oui the People
I am in the process of vetting these brands, but they all appear to be Good Stuff, and I encourage you to support them. Please let me know of other natural products made by black-owned businesses by replying to this email.
Finally, I recognize that most of the people reading this are white women, and that, our biggest job right now is to really listen to the black people in our lives.
I especially want to listen to any women (or men!) of color who are reading this. How can Gimme the Good Stuff better serve you? What are your concerns as black and brown mothers, or as white mothers raising black and brown children, that we might be able to help you solve? I say this knowing that your worries are likely bigger than anything I can ever address on a website that devotes entire blog posts to the differences between sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate.
Still, if you have concerns that our Safe Products Guides have overlooked because of my whiteness, please respond below. I am listening.