Black Lives Matter

Jun 16, 2020

Along with many others in our industry and across the country, we have been moved and motivated by the powerful uprising that started in Minneapolis and has since spread around the globe, including to our home communities: Portland, New York, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. The response to the brutal, tragic, and unnecessary deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and uncountable other victims of violence has demanded that we immediately turn inward and examine how we must work to change our own white-centric company perspective.

Since the start, Stumptown’s demographic breakdown has looked more or less like this. We recognize that we can do better, and that we have a responsibility to our employees, customers, and communities to do the work to change.

Although we have often stated that we celebrate diversity, our actions have not always supported those statements, and it has taken us too long to acknowledge and shift our white-centric perspective. We know that our failure to take action sooner may have caused harm, however unintentional, to our BIPOC colleagues and community members. We commit now to taking the necessary steps to minimize future harm. Recognizing that any radical change must start from within, we will begin with conversations where all Stumptown staff can share their priorities for what these steps look like.

We have already identified some areas where change is most needed, and we’ll need to prioritize them, including:

  • Organizations we partner with and support.
  • Training on bias, identity, power and inclusion for all employees.
  • Brand and marketing efforts.
  • Recruiting and hiring, at all levels of the company.

In an effort to make these changes, and with the knowledge that a donation and a few hasty initiatives will not provide the lasting shift that is necessary, we will be using this series of conversations over the next week to create a set of concrete, permanent goals, initiatives, and accountability measures. We plan to report on our progress regularly over the next year, with the long-term goal of an annual transparency report that includes an update on these initiatives.

This is just the beginning of a forever process; you can expect to hear back from us on this front in a month’s time, then again every three months, and eventually in a dedicated section of an annual transparency report.

We’re just one coffee company, but we’re also a collection of humans that can -- and must -- work together to create a more equitable version of our little corner of the world. We are grateful for your patience with our failure to acknowledge and act sooner, and hope we can count on your support as we take accountability and grow. In the meantime, we’ll see you in the streets. Black Lives Matter.

Some notes and additional resources

On June 1st, Stumptown pledged $25,000 each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the national Black Lives Matter network. If you’re able, we invite and encourage you to join us in donating to those venerable and transformative organizations, or to another local black-led organization, bail fund, or mutual aid fund. Here in Portland, that might be Don’t Shoot PDX or the local chapter of the NAACP; in New York, it might be the work of Harriet’s Apothecary or GLITS; in LA, it might be Black Lives Matter LA or the Free Black Women's Library. Do some research to find an organization whose work resonates with you; there are countless groups doing incredible, urgent work all across the country.

The organizers on the front lines in this fight need our support through non-financial means as well, whether that’s showing up to protest, donations of meals and drinking water, safe rides to and from actions, childcare for movement organizers, offering skills like graphic design or legal aid at no cost, participating in neighborhood cleanup, or amplifying the messages of Black organizers on social media platforms.

What we've been up to
Around here, many of us have been taking this time to listen and learn. If longform journalism is your bag, we recommend starting with Ta-Nehisi Coates’s essential 2014 essay “The Case for Reparations,” and following that with The New York Times’s 1619 Project, a collection of writings and images that traces the history of Black folks in America from the time the first enslaved African people were brought to these shores in 1619, over 400 years ago. NYT reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones recently won a Pulitzer prize for this groundbreaking work, which was released in conjunction with further educational resources and an excellent podcast.

Some books to read
There are dozens of lists floating around the internet of books to read in this moment, but a few titles about being Black in America that have been most impactful to Stumptown team members are The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, Heavy by Kiese Laymon, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, and How We Got Free, edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor.

Are you a white person or non-Black person of color who wants to learn about how best to show allyship and counteract white supremacy in your life and community? There are books for that, too, including the anti-racism guides So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi, Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, and the work of Rachel Cargle, The Great Unlearn.

Talking to your kids
If you’re talking to kids in your life about what’s going on in the world, folks like Embrace Race, W Kamau Bell, PBS, Sesame Street, and NPR have offered up reading lists and resource guides for how to tackle these complicated and often painful issues with young people of all ages.

Are movies more your speed? Ava Duvernay’s entire oeuvre, including the criminal justice documentary 13th, narrative feature Selma, and miniseries When They See Us, is a good place to start. For further historical background, catch up on documentaries like The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck), and Let The Fire Burn (Jason Osder).

For the audiophiles out there, many excellent podcasts address the history of race relations in America, as well as exploring how that history shapes our political, cultural and legal landscape today. A few to tune into include Justice in America (The Appeal -- criminal justice deep dive), Seeing White (Scene on Radio -- exploration of white identity in the US), Code Switch (NPR -- weekly conversations on race and culture), Yo! Is This Racist? (Earwolf -- call-in show answering the age-old question “Yo, is this racist?”), and Still Processing (New York Times -- culture podcast through a Black lens).

Call your reps and vote!
Last but not least, CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES and VOTE. You can find who represents you at every level of government using this tool. Tell them how you’re feeling and how you’d like things to change. Many cities are finalizing their budgets for the 2020 fiscal year; now is a great time to tell them how we’d like them to allocate resources. We’re researching how to support racial and criminal justice initiatives at the municipal, state, and national level, and make our voice heard! While electoral politics is no silver bullet, our taxes pay our reps’ salaries and support government programs; it’s our prerogative to voice our opinion on how our representatives are doing and what our tax dollars are supporting. These messages don’t have to be perfect; the important part is speaking up. Research the platforms of your local or national candidates, and pressure them to make changes if you feel they should; call to show support for positions you agree with.

That should give all of us plenty to think about for now. We look forward to continuing these conversations with you as we move through this historic moment and, we hope, into a better, brighter future.