What We Know Is True
By Belief Agency
We’ve spent the last week as a team moving through discomfort to talk, learn, and try to figure out our place in this movement—as a group of people with the shared truth that black lives matter and unique ways of expressing that in our personal lives, and as an organization with influence that can be applied for good.
If we’re being honest: We’re still trying to figure it out. As a business, we’re marketers, working every day to establish a new system of mass communication built on truth. It’s unsurprising but disheartening to see brands all over the world publicly expressing their “conviction” at a time when it’s convenient—while never having stood on that platform before. It’s sobering to admit we could (and should) have been doing more, making a more concerted effort. It’s been an incredible challenge to determine how to respond in our own way when we know the efforts we’ve made towards diversity and equal representation on our staff or the money and time we’ve donated to organizations and creators who champion the dignity, value, and worth of BIPOC communities, but we’ve never talked about it publicly—does that give us a right to now? Does that make it inauthentic to do so now? And really, does it matter, as long as doing so helps evoke necessary change? We have been hesitant and afraid, as a brand focused on truth, to profit by association off of the affinity of appearing aligned with what’s “fashionable” for brands in this painful moment in our country and around the world.
But, we’ve realized something: inaction is a more insidious choice than well-intentioned action, and fear is no reason to not stand for what you believe in. We’ve told our clients that very thing every single day since we first opened. This week, we reminded ourselves.
So, here’s what we know is true:
- George Floyd’s death was murder. Breonna Taylor’s death was murder. Ahmaud Arbery’s death was murder. The deaths of Botham Jean, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Atatiana Jefferson, Eric Garner, Jordan Edwards, Freddie Gray, William Chapman, Walter Scott, and others like them were murder.
- Their lives mattered. Black lives matter.
- The racism that began in this country centuries ago exists today, ingrained in systemic problems such as police brutality, criminal convictions, economic opportunity, redlining, and health inequity.
- White privilege is a fact. And white people have an opportunity and responsibility to use that privilege to help the disenfranchised.
- Saying “I’m not racist” is not enough. Racism and implicit bias are embedded in our culture and impossible to escape.
- Saying nothing is not enough, because silence is complicity.
- The advertising industry—our industry—has an undeniable track record of building brands and profiting from racism.
- This quote, from our teacher and friend Lindsey T.H. Jackson: “We all have to be anti-racists every day. In our interactions with our community, our family, our friends, and ourselves. It’s a commitment to anti-bias.”
We talked as a team on Friday, and decided we want to engage in stages of work, from immediate to long-term. Some have a tendency to see long-term, some short-term—all are correct and geared towards the same goal: racial equality and justice. We started that immediate work last weekend with a statement in support of Black Lives Matter. It’s continued below with a compilation of resources for allyship shared on Slack and social media by members of our team. Together, we’re exploring the spectrum of what that action looks like—right now and in the long term.
We want to do what is appropriate and true to us: using the power of story and the skills we have to dismantle systemic racism, prejudice, and hate that threatens to destroy our democracy. We’re exploring ways to contribute the unique skills as a team and our unique platform in a way that makes room and makes an impact—not noise.
America has not lived up to its founding creed: “… that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We can all do better to change that story, our story, and together we can turn the page and write a better narrative.
Resources for allyship
Where to donate (time or money)
- ACLU Foundation
- Black Lives Matter of Seattle-King County
- Got Green Seattle
- BET + United Way COVID-19 Relief Fund
- NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
What to watch
- “Eyes on the Prize,” parts I and II (PBS)
- “13TH” (Netflix)
- “When They See Us” (Netflix)
- “I Am Not Your Negro”
- “Hidden Colors”
- “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross” (PBS)
What to listen to
- 1619 (New York Times)
- Code Switch (NPR)
- The Daily (New York Times)
- Momentum (Race Forward)
- Rants & Randomness with Luvvie Ajayi
- Still Processing (New York Times)
What to read
- “I Am Not Your Negro,” by James Baldwin
- “Black Like Me,” by John Howard Griffin
- “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,”
- “The Souls of Black Folk,” by W.E.B. Dubois
- “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
- “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” by Zora Neale Hurston
- “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,” Robin DiAngelo
- “Something Happened In Our Town” (children’s book)
- 10 tips for teaching children about race
- A toolkit for talking to your children about racism