📷 Michael Ritto 6/6/20 Fullerton, California
The last few weeks have seen movements like #amplifymelanatedvoices #blackouttuesday and other allyship campaigns across social media.
I posted on my social media about these and participated in silencing myself to listen to more to black voices for a week. I will be clear that I am a white woman, this business is run completely by me, and I don't represent anyone else or employ anyone else, so everything you see is done by yours truly. I say this as to be clear about who I am and what this business is about. Not as a perfect example or to toot my own horn. And again, I know this very post is very centered, and I am sorry for that.
I have supported Black Lives Matter since its inception, both financially and on social media. I say that not to get brownie points, but to tell you I acknowledge the parade of wokeness all over the web right now. Hopefully it's clear that this is no trend to me. If my social media posts lose me customers or followers, that's ok with me. I care more about pushing out racism and supporting my beliefs than I do about selling a candle.
While I'm straying pretty far from the content of selling vegan products here, bear with me. In addition to this business, I also teach college writing. During my years of teaching, I have learned just as much from my students as I hope they're learning from me. I've learned more from their stories about life experiences different than mine, which is a gift. I strive to foster learning from each other not just from me or a text, to explore big ideas like privilege, ultimately working on how to discuss a social justice topic with actual research (from journals, not google). It's difficult for me to even say that without sounding stuck up. It takes work for many of us to realize how we got to where we are and I am no exception.
I hope the messages in my feed, while they are already fading, don't disappear completely. I am putting a call out to everyone reading this to not move on and forget too soon. My challenge to you is to make something permanent, and not just a story that's gone in 24 hours or a profile pic frame that gets changed.
If you can give financially, make it recurring. Put it on autopay and count it as a fixed expense. This goes for you, personally, or your business. If you can, use a direct payment option like from your account rather than a debit card, which saves whomever you donate to from paying several percent to their processing company.
From day one, this company was founded "with a purpose." I've donated ten percent (often more, because I just round up) of my profits on every dollar I've earned. I won't lie; the first checks I sent out hurt a little. I put all my own money into my starting costs, so that profit was money that could support my family or reinvest. But ultimately, I know how blessed I am and thus here's where my donations have gone.
Currently I split donations between:
Illumination Foundation, who "provides targeted, interdisciplinary services for the most vulnerable homeless adults and children in order to disrupt the cycle of homelessness." www.ifhomeless.org
Pathways of Hope, who "leads a community effort to provide access to food, shelter, and housing to those experiencing hunger and homelessness in North Orange County." www.pohoc.org Currently they are taking donations for a general fund or a COVID-19 specific response fund.
Additionally, AAG profits were donated last month (in addition to my usual 10% from all products) to Campaign Zero, to implement policy changes for reducing police violence. https://www.joincampaignzero.org/
In the past, I've supported:
Prison Yoga Project, "working to change the criminal justice system from the inside out. We believe that a restorative, rather than a punitive, approach to justice will lead to a more humane and effective criminal justice system, ultimately culminating in a reduction in crime in our communities." www.prisonyoga.org/
The McKenna Claire Foundation, who seek to "cure pediatric brain cancer by raising awareness, increasing community involvement and funding research." http://mckennaclairefoundation.org/
Toys for Tots Orange County, providing celebrations and gifts to local children in need. https://seal-beach-ca.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/default.aspx?nPageID=100&nPreviewInd=200
Many of these causes and issues are interconnected. This is just a start, and I'd love to hear from you in the comments about what else my little company can do!