We find ourselves at an inflection point of a public health crisis that has gone untreated for far too long: racism, abuse and killing of Black people at the hands of police. Freeman has been more quiet than usual over the last few weeks - this was not by accident. Now is a time for us to listen, internalize and learn. As much as we endeavor to live our lives and run our business as stewards of equity, this moment lays bare the reality that policing and an economic system built to oppress Black and Brown people are inextricably linked. As a business operating in this system, we must look at our role.
Within capitalism, an unspoken business mantra has disproportionately impacted our Black, Brown and immigrant communities and we cannot continue to ignore it: profits over people. Therein lies the root of many of the economic and racial injustices that can be traced back to the earliest days of this country. The role of policing and its racial bias in this country shares many of the same roots in maintaining this economy that overwhelmingly benefits white people. As a business, this economy is one thing we must confront and challenge. We all have to put a roof over our heads, pay our bills, put food on the table, and enjoy our lives - an item of clothing, or anything, is not worth depriving a worker of basic necessities just to drive down costs. A human is not a line item in a budget, they are someone's parent, someone's child, someone's sibling, someone's loved one.
For those of us with the privilege and resources to choose where we spend our money, that choice represents a chance to send a message. Whether you want to support an ethically made clothing company or a farmer who grows organic food, you have an opportunity to ask: Does this company understand that they have a role to play in helping combat systemic injustices and racism in the way they do business? Does this company truly understand equity? As business owners, we must continue to ask these questions of our own business.
For Freeman, our focus going forward is to continue and to improve:
- paying living wages.
- investing in our community and thoughtfully considering which fundraising efforts we continue to be involved with. Do they benefit people that only look like us? Do they lift up voices that have traditionally been silenced?
- auditing the vendors we work with to ensure we are sending our dollars to businesses who share our values.
- identifying our own racial bias'.
The point here is not about buying from Freeman, it's about knowing the values you perpetuate with the dollars you spend, wherever you choose to spend them. Black owned businesses need your dollars. Non-profits working to combat racism need your dollars. Companies who know they are nothing without their amazing employees need your dollars. There is a long list of corporations and industries that do not need your dollars.
How we spend our money is far from being the only action needed, but it is one step many of us can take today. Consider this a conversation starter, one that we will follow down many paths as we look at everything from policing and incarceration to economic systems that create and perpetuate racism and inequality in our country and the world.
Since conversations run two ways, we invite you to reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about our specific practices, or have suggested reading or ideas to help further our understanding. This will not be the last thing you hear from us regarding these issues. We are just now opening the door.
Scott and Brittany Freeman