For the past week we partook in #amplifymelanatedvoices. We muted, and we listened. I’ve been quite astounded by how much you learn when you just ‘shoosh it’. Though this week-long campaign is over (it was June 2-7th) we are only just beginning our journey toward becoming a business who operates from a place of anti-racism, so we can be better allies to our BIPOC brothers and sisters.
The events that have unfolded in America and rippled out around the world have, for me, put into motion a process of self-examination: an examination of my own prejudices and conditioning , an examination of our brand, our policies and processes, our content, our Instagram feed, everything – and what it has exposed is an underlying ignorance, a passive non-racism, a white conditioning that we as a white owned brand cannot hide from any longer. I’m putting my hand up and saying the change starts here. Because how can we demand change outwardly until we examine and challenge ourselves inwardly. I want Spell to be a leader in the areas that mattered most to Spelly and I, things like sustainability and inclusiveness. But after actually stopping to LISTEN to some incredible black women activists over the past week, I realise I know nothing – that we not only have a long way to go, but we haven’t even started.
As the leader of this business, it’s my responsibility to learn, take action and try implement change from the inside out. I want to acknowledge that I’ll never understand, but that I am committed to, we as a business are committed to, doing the work we need to do to become better allies. We operate our business here on Arakwal Land and I acknowledge our extraordinary white privilege and want to use that privilege to support our First Nations People and Indigenous run organisations. We are committed to using our platform to amplify black and brown voices, to sharing what we learn to raise others up, we’re committed to being vocal around issues of racism even though I know we’ll stuff it up and get it wrong. I know it’s more than just posting a diverse Instagram feed. Sure, we’ve had Black, Brown, Indigenous muses in our campaigns, runways and influencer trips over the years, and we thought we were doing ok when it came to diversity. But it wasn’t nearly good enough. I see now, you will never, ever change the status quo by passively choosing a cross section of diversity that organically ends up in your lap – (casting the Black and Brown models you see on the books at the agencies you work with, or re-posting pics you find in your own hash tag, or just assuming that the women of colour within your own team feel heard and empowered). You have to seek it out, reach out, have the conversations, be uncomfortable and stuff up many conversations before you get it right. Sitting in the discomfort of your deep not-knowing is part of the process.
We are committed to engaging with more women and men of colour across our business, content creators, photographers, artists, models/muses, print designers, podcast guests, voices on our blog.
We are committed to making changes from within the fabric of our business, sitting with People of Colour who are experts in this field to identify areas in our policies that need work. I want this change start from within, at the roots.
Our first instinct was to rush into change with all our might, do all the things straight away or sooner, but the conversations over the past week have called for a breath, called for consideration and real action that signals an ever-lasting mission toward being better.
We have asked the women within our team who identify as women of colour to nominate charities close to their hearts, we have made donations in their name to the following charities:
Sisters Inside https://sistersinside.com.au/
Black Vision Collective https://www.blackvisionsmn.org/
The Glen (http://www.theglencentre.org.au/)
This is only the beginning, but I wanted to acknowledge it in a full statement here, because you guys know us, once we commit to something we don’t shy away from it. We don’t say something and then do nothing. Just like with sustainability five years ago, once we commit to ongoing improvement, we throw all our might at it, and for us this journey is no different.
Thank you for listening, we are still listening too. We hope you see and feel the change. It’s coming.