I believe small businesses will play a big role in our slow clambering out of our racist systems. Part of that is because single-person businesses like mine have the ability to change their structure, their decisions, and their goals as quickly as a person can.
So, as I work on unlearning racism in my personal life and interactions with the world, I want my business to transform alongside me. I no longer want to ignore the fact that my clients and collaborators “happen to be” mostly white and cis-gendered, or that the voices I listen to the most are largely echoes of my own white, middle-class identity.
Here’s my plan to build anti-racism into my business:
Read books to help me confront my bias
I’ve made a list of books that I’m going to read about racism, bias, and the experience of being Black in America. But I also plan to seek out more fiction or other creative works by BIPOC and by people who write from a perspective completely different than my own.
This action isn’t directly related to my business, but because my business is an extension of myself, I felt it deserved a place in this article.
Here is my list so far:
- This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jenkins
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Stamped From The Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
- Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships Across Differences by Tiffany Jana and Matthew Freeman
- Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions by Tiffany Jana and Michael Baran
Engage with the Great Unlearn by Rachel Cargle
Rachel Cargle’s generous Patreon community shares monthly resources to help white people unlearn racism and bias and understand the history of race in America.
You can become a Patron of Cargle’s for as little as $5/month.
Diversify my feeds
It’s no wonder that most of my collaborators and clients have been white since most of the people I invited into my digital spaces were white.
I’m following and subscribing to accounts run by BIPOC entrepreneurs, web designers, writers, copywriters, illustrators, and creative business owners in other industries I overlap with.
I’ve also diversified my podcast feed to make sure I’m listening to podcasts by Black voices. I’ll do the same with the writers I follow on Medium.
Pursue diversity in my blog
I’ve recently started a guest blogging program where other writers or service providers can share their expertise with my audience. But now, I’m committing to making sure that at least 50% of the writers I invite to guest blog on my website are BIPOC.
Actively court diverse clients and audiences
It’s important to me that I don’t just attract clients who are like me, especially in regards to race. But it won’t happen by accident.
So, I’m going to join or follow communities where BIPOC are members and seek opportunities to get in front of these audiences.
Evaluate future marketing for inclusive language and imagery
From here on out, I will be vigilant for language or imagery that excludes or offends a group of people. I’ve bookmarked The Conscious Style Guide in my writing resources folder so that I can easily access this information.
Seek to patronize BIPOC businesses and hire BIPOC contractors
I’d love it if I “ended up” patronizing an at least equal amount of BIPOC-owned and white-owned businesses. But a recent audit of my spending has revealed that–shocker–it didn’t happen on its own.
That’s why I’m committing to purchasing from BIPOC-owned businesses. This includes the “small stuff” like restaurants I order from and bookstores I buy from. But it also includes the bigger stuff, like making sure I’m hiring a diverse team of contractors to help me run my business as I grow.
Vet platforms for anti-racism and diversity
I’ve been getting more and more opportunities to share my copywriting expertise on the platforms of other business owners. Moving forward, I’ll check to see if the platform extending me the invitation has also proven that they extend similar invitations to BIPOC. If they don’t, I’ll decline the invite and explain why.
Have the tough conversations in person
This one is more of a personal action than a business action–but I don’t think I can build an anti-racist business with integrity if I’m ignoring the racism I encounter in my day-to-day.
I’m committing to speaking up when white family members or friends demonstrate a racist belief. In the past, I’ve only spoken up when I felt “strong” enough to handle the backlash that would inevitably ensure. Now, I’m not giving myself permission to stay silent.
Focus on unlearning and dismantling over optics
These past few weeks have been a time of reckoning with my whiteness and my complicity in our racist systems. And I can’t say that optics–proving that your business isn’t racist to avoid being called out–hasn’t played at least a subtle role in this reckoning.
However, I want to be held accountable for everything I’ve laid out here. Which means, if I make a mistake or don’t follow through, I’m committing to putting my ego aside to hear the criticism.
These changes won’t happen overnight; I’ve given myself six months to have taken action in each of these categories. Of course, my work won’t be done once I have, but it will be started.