antiracism on apartment34

This site was started to celebrate what could be called life’s frivolities. Design, fashion, food, travel. Some would argue, and I am certainly among them, that these aspects of life and culture are, in fact, incredibly important components of self expression, mental health and wellbeing, connection, and community building. They are crucial parts of life’s joys.

But I have never explicitly acknowledged on this platform that my ability to focus on such frivolous things is in large part due to my privilege as a white person with means, who lives in a major city. I am housing and food secure. I have a higher education. I benefit from access, resources and status that is unearned. My privilege is made available to me simply because I am white.

In the two weeks since the murder of George Floyd, there has been a collective reckoning with the systemic and institutionalized racism that has terrorized Black communities in the United States for 400 years.

I have spent the last two weeks listening, reading, and recognizing my contribution to the system that continuously oppresses Black people and People of Color (POC) on a daily basis. My inaction is a failing.

But here I am. A white woman with this blog. This platform. With followers on social media. From this point forward, I will be taking conscious action to combat racism in all aspects. A part of this conscious action is embracing my responsibility to share my views publicly. It is my duty to engage in difficult and uncomfortable conversations with you because staying silent is complicity. Remaining silent does no good, only harm.

I suspect I will get feedback that politics should stay personal. You came to Apartment 34 for inspiration on what color to paint your living room, not to discuss politics. But the personal is always political. I’ve certainly never shied away from sharing my personal views here, but saying that a lifestyle blog “isn’t the place to discuss racism” is a luxury of white privilege. We, as white people, are able to compartmentalize different parts of ourselves because our existence is not questioned. It is not threatened on a daily basis. We can choose to not think about these issues. Black people enjoy no such luxury.

I am hopeful you will stay to have these challenging conversations with me.

I apologize to my Black followers and to the BIPOC community at large, as I have not publicly used this platform to do the work of an ally. That stops today. I am still working to unpack my own implicit biases and identify where I fail as an antiracism ally. But because I have this platform, because I am a citizen who lives in a country built on the back of institutionalized racism, and because I am a human who cares, I have a responsibility to not only be an ally, but also be an advocate. An open, active, loud advocate for antiracism. An open, active, loud advocate for Black people. An advocate for the disenfranchised. An advocate for all POC who face daily oppression. And this work doesn’t just happen one time. It’s not a single post. It’s not attending one protest, making one donation or taking one vote. This must be a consistent, ongoing, commitment to keep sharing, showing up, protesting, voting and applying pressure from all sides until justice is done.

As a brand, public platform and individual influencer (no matter how uncomfortable I am with that term), I am putting forth the following:

  • At Apartment 34, we stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter to bring justice, healing, and freedom to Black people across the globe.
  • Apartment 34 is an actively antiracist platform. To that end, we will not tolerate any racist comments or interactions in Apartment 34 owned spaces.
  • Apartment 34 will only work with partners who are also actively antiracist. Going forward, Apt34 will vet all potential partners to understand their hiring practices, their public stance on key issues and their philanthropic activities to actively lift up the Black community and other communities of color.
  • Apartment 34 will serve as a platform to amplify the work of Black designers, makers, artists and creatives not just now, not just occasionally, but on a regular and continual basis.
  • Apartment 34 will actively work to support Black-owned businesses through our purchasing power, links and work with freelancers.
  • Apartment 34 will work to keep the Creative industries accountable, to ensure that Black people have multiple seats at the table, that they are put in positions of leadership, that they are offered to share their expertise at conferences and on panels, and that their work is viewed within its own context, not only within the context of the white-dominant views of design work.

Finally, I still have a lot more personal work to do to examine how implicit racial bias shows up in my own life – a journey I am happy to share with you on the blog and on social media if you are interested (you can see all the resources I’ve shared to do saved on my Instagram Stories and this Google Doc is a list of incredible antiracism resources – I highly recommend you check it out) – but I’ve thought a lot about how Apartment 34 can make a tangible contribution in this moment, right now.

Here is what I’ve come up with:

If you’ve been following Black people on social media this week, or perhaps even had conversations with your own Black friends, you may have heard them say “do not ask me what you can do.” Or “stop asking me what you can do.” As a white person that can feel confusing as you’re just asking how to help, right? But in fact, by you asking, you’re putting all the onus back on the POC to educate you. You’re putting the work on them to dig up past traumas and explain them to you, when in fact, so many Black people have already so graciously, bravely and beautifully done that for all of us, in the form of amazing books about Black life in America.

So below I have compiled a nowhere-near-exhaustive list of Black literature, both fiction and non-fiction, that illuminate the Black experience. To qualify, I have read many, but not all of these titles so I cannot personally speak about each individual one. But I have added them all to my reading list – even the ones I’ve read many years ago. Because I need to have these stories etched into my mind and across my heart. I, as a white person, will never truly appreciate the Black experience because I cannot myself embody it, but I can do my utmost to be fully educated about it, to know Black stories so I can  empathize with the Black struggle to the best of my ability, and understand the history so I can be a better ally and advocate. We all can do this.

So you do not need to DM a black advocate on Instagram or text your Black friend. Simply pick up the work of these amazing Black authors (I have prioritized mostly women but there men too) who have given us an amazing gift with their words and stories.

While I encourage you to seek out Black-owned bookstores to purchase these books (here is a link to 124 Black-owned bookstores), all the links below are Amazon affiliate links. Amazon does offer access to those who cannot access a Black-owned bookstore in this moment in time. I will be donating 100% of any commission made from the purchase of a book listed below to The Conscious Kid, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing bias and promoting positive identity development in youth. As The Conscious Kid explains,

“To counter racist socialization, structural racism, and racial bias, experts recommend acknowledging and naming race and racism with children as early and as often as possible (Baron & Banaji; Derman-Sparks). Children’s books are one of the most effective and practical tools for initiating these critical conversations with children, and can also be used to model what it means to resist and disrupt oppression.”

All donations made to The Conscious Kid go to a dedicated fund for the organization to get children’s books from their list of “41 Children’s Books to Support Conversations on Race, Racism, and Resistance” into classrooms across the country.

A key step in ending institutionalized racism in our nation is teaching anti-racism to our children. It’s one of many many things we will need to do individually, and collectively, to begin to dismantle systemic racism once and for all.

 

100% commissions earned from the purchase of these books will go to The Conscious Kid.

 

image courtesy of ThirdLove

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5 Comments

  1. Thank you for this! I support anti-racist initiatives, and the work we must all do to confront and change the legacy of white supremacy. I appreciate openly stating that racist language is not welcome in this corner of the internet.

  2. Many of the books mentioned here have meant a lot to me.
    Books I would add:
    A Mercy by Toni Morrison
    Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

    1. Those are great suggestions as well – thank you Kathy

  3. I have always wondered why all the design blogs I read were so white white extra white.
    They do not look like the world I live in – and I’m white! – but my friends/ work/ family worlds have lots of color – and frankly it’s just more fun, interesting, beautiful.

    We can all do better (myself included). Not just because it’s the right thing to do. All my black/ POC girl friends are stylish AF and love design!

    1. totally agree! can’t wait to bring fresh design around here!