It is with a harrowing sadness that while we steer the tragedies dispersed from the Covid pandemic, a spotlight has recently been placed on another profoundly tragic issue. One, that has affected a much greater number of individuals (for decades) and is impossible to collate accuracy on it's victim count (past and present).
I had a deeply upsetting conversation with a friend from America last week and it was not a topic we had broached before. Racial injustice. Let me preface this by saying that I had always been under the impression that my world has always been inclusive and my social perspective encompassing. At the end of our talk I realised that there is a profound difference between "non racist" and being "actively anti-racist". The first passive and the second requiring action.
In response to a statement he made, I regaled to him my first years in New York City, my friendship circle was broad, open and I recalled friends that I made from Uganda, Tokyo, South Africa, the list went on. I naively thought, by living a life that held a broad range of ethnicities close to my heart that I was not part of the problem. To, be truthful, I lived in Manhattan, spent time with educated individuals from privileged backgrounds and while ethnicity didn't matter to us in our insular fashion world (surrounded by a 'Benetton ad' of faces), the inequalities that happened in the real world went starkly unnoticed.
I looked out of my window for four hours following that conversation with the deepest shame. A shame I had never felt. Selfishly as a man in the midway of his life, I had to be taught to focus on an issue I could have sharpened my perspective on many years before. I needed to be guided to the understanding that I was gifted with privilege. I thought that because I came from a working class background, put myself through university and made my own way in the world, I was somewhat equal to others that fought their way in the world. This is unequivocally not the truth. We all face hardships and challenges, but for certain individuals skin tone makes life brutally harder.
It is time to make changes. Sorry, let me stress the important word in that first sentence, "make". Nothing will change unless we take action. Those of us in a position of privilege, doing the jobs we love, seeing the world, taking in the opportunities that life affords us, must step up. We have the capabilities to do it, we just need the willingness and tenacity.
I have the seeds of an idea that will come to life in a longer term plan and a humble shorter term plan. In the month of June, we will give 20% of our e-commerce sales to one of the charities advocating for racial change. It won't be much, but it will be something.