A statement from our founder, AnnaKate Auten.
Clarity is reasonable. In a time of deep social unrest, it’s even more important for organizations to speak up and make clear their values and anti-racism efforts. I’ve shared our values before, but it’s time to elaborate more on anti-racism. In all areas of life, we believe setting expectations is good and healthy, so I want to make our values clear. Let me be abundantly clear here, in case you choose not to continue reading: Black Lives Matter.
You may find it odd that a design studio feels the need to put out a statement like this. In the past, issues like this have been seen as political. I’ve been guilty of the same. Now, I no longer believe this is a political issue, but a human rights one. In the words of Jemar Tisby; “This is a humanitarian and human rights debacle. This isn’t about the laws of the land, it’s about the lives of fellow image bearers. It’s about people who have hopes and dreams just like the rest of us. This isn’t about left or right, it’s about right and wrong.”
I’m doing the work to educate myself personally, but that’s a long process. As I continue to learn more, that will affect the way I run my business. I understand dismantling systemic racism isn’t going to happen today by me listening to a podcast, so I’ll be sharing current actions and more long term goals. Please understand this is not to toot my own horn, but rather to be vocal (silence = supporting the oppressor) and allow myself to be held accountable. You are more than welcome to check in and hold me accountable to these actions.
Our Anti-Racism Action Steps
These actions are both business and personal, but since Rhema Design Co is a one woman show, the lines get blurred. Here’s what I’m doing right now to be embody active anti-racism and create a more equitable world:
- Donating 10% of booking deposits for the rest of the year to an organization of the clients choice (from a list of reputable and highly rated organizations). Some of these include the Equal Justice Initiative, Campaign Zero, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Black Girls Code, or the Athens Mutual Aid Network (for local clients).
- I’ve signed the Small Business Pledge from Hello Seven.
- Voting for policies and candidates that will benefit the most oppressed of our society.
- Having hard conversations with friends and family.
- I’ve added an ‘education’ line item into my personal budget to further my knowledge on important issues. As much as I love my local library, I want to be able to support black authors and black owned bookshops through my finances. I plan to do my best to dedicate these resources to small businesses.
- Continuing to educate myself. Right now, I’m working through an anti-racism course from a local educator.
Some Initial Goals for the future (this list will grow and evolve):
- Eventually be directing 30% of my business expenses towards black owned businesses.
- Move towards shopping from small businesses (black owned, when possible) instead of large corporations and fast fashion.
- Prioritize donating to some of the above organizations from my personal monthly budget.
In conclusion, we value diversity of thought. That’s good and healthy and normal. In the words of James Baldwin; “We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.” Except, it’s not my humanity in question right now, so I’d amend this to exclude myself. So I welcome your diversity of thought here, unless it oppresses anyones humanity and right to exist. We will get this wrong. I will get this wrong. But silence is siding with the oppressor, and we commit to speaking up, listening, and apologizing when wrong. This language and statement will likely evolve as we continue our education.
If these values enrage you, then let me be quite frank: we’re not a good fit to work together. I wish you the best, but will not partner with people or organizations who choose oppression.