Building An Anti-Racist Business

If we were sitting across from each other I’d pour you a cup of coffee (in some fantastic ceramic mug, of course) and ask you how you are. I’d ask you what you’re learning and unlearning, what you’re working on, and what you’re looking forward to.

We’re in the midst of the largest human rights movement many of us have seen in our lifetime. We’re engaging in long overdue, public conversations about anti-black racism, white supremacy, police brutality, and racial justice. To be clear these conversations are not new. Black people have been leading them for centuries but unfortunately most white people, like myself, have done a poor job of listening. Moreover, we’ve continued to actively bolster the systems that oppress Black people. In doing so we have done an incalculable amount of harm. 

Photo Credit: Kate Smalley

As we learn about the systems that have gotten us here, notice how we play into them personally and professionally, and take action to deconstruct them, we’re reminded that anti-racism work is ongoing work. Anti-racism work is a lifelong practice of listening and noticing, sitting with the resulting discomfort, and challenging the racism we meet in ourselves and others. 

One thing I’ve found helpful as I continue along my anti-racism journey and look to how I can build an anti-racist business is Barbara J. Love’s Liberatory Consciousness Framework. Barbara outlines four stages to this work: awareness, analysis, action, and accountability. As Ericka Hines astutely pointed out in this Reimagining Small Business Town Hall, most of us jump from awareness to action, skipping the deep and necessary work of analysis. 

We cannot create a better system, or world, without first analyzing and naming what’s wrong with the current one.

Racism is very much so embedded in both the craft industry and the history of the crafts we love. Craft, like any art, is a tangible expression of our culture. It’s made to stand with, for, and against. It holds hurt and hope, often saying far more than we could through words. As the founder of Craft Uncommon, it’s my responsibility to educate myself, listen, make space, and do better.

My privilege comes with a lifelong responsibility to do the work and I’m currently deep in the analysis stage. I look forward to sharing Craft Uncommon’s detailed commitment to anti-racism, but for now, I can tell you this:

I do not believe that you can build a business that celebrates craft and supports makers without understanding the systems that act on the industry and the people within it. This is why Craft Uncommon is dedicated to the business of craft as well as the joy of it. 

Craft isn’t only about beauty. Craft is about economics, politics, environmentalism, and human rights. We cannot discuss craft without talking about the economics of who gets access and who doesn’t, whose labour is considered valuable and whose isn’t, and whose voices are listened to and whose aren’t.  

Craft is, and always has been, a powerful force driving our culture. Makers have the power to change the way we see the world, each other, and ourselves. And together, we have the power to build the kind of world we’d like to live in. Let’s build something to be proud of. 

Thrilled you’re in this with me,

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