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An Update, Six Months In

Six months ago, I made a commitment to be actively anti-racist...
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Six months ago, I made a commitment to be actively anti-racist, and you deserve an update on my promises made back in June. I looked at my complicity in systemic racism as a two-pronged problem: how I was running cupcakes and cashmere and what I was doing (and not doing) personally. From a business standpoint, we've made a lot of progress, but on a personal level, I haven't been doing enough, and I know I could be doing more. And for that, I apologize.

From a business side, here are the promises we made, and where we are:

  1. Cupcakes and cashmere took Aurora James' pledge to dedicate at least 15 percent of our shelf space to Black-owned businesses, and we've added seven Black-owned brands to our Shop – La Botica, 54 Thrones, KNC Beauty, Dehiya Beauty, Iyoba, Aesthete Tea, and Marie Hunter – all of which you love as much as we do. We're currently at six percent and have more products on order that we can’t wait to release in 2021.  
  2. We’ve donated profits from sales one day a month to organizations supporting BIPOC communities, including Critical Resistance, First Nations Development Institute, Building Black Bedstuy, and Equal Justice Initiative.
  3. We've added paid contributors to the blog (ten WOC total, six of whom are Black women), and this post about microaggressions by the talented Thao Thai was our second-most read of the year.
  4. We hired seven Shop models remotely due to the pandemic, all of whom are women of color. Get to know them in our “About the Models” tab on various product pages, like this one.
  5. We hired Lauren, our social media coordinator and first Black employee, in October, who you may have started to see on Instagram. Currently, four of our nine employees (Geoffrey and I make 11 total) are women of color.

In addition to continuing to fulfill the promises highlighted above, we’ll keep vetting the brands we partner with (to inquire about the other content creators they’re working with and browse their feeds for diversity), and will be more diligent about looking into their policies and commitment to anti-racism.

I felt that because we were making good on our promises from a business standpoint I didn’t have to share what I was learning personally. Cupcakes and cashmere has always felt like an extension of me; like it fell under the umbrella of who I am. The lines are so blurred when it comes to where I begin and the business ends. I’ve come to realize simply providing a platform for other voices, while important, wasn’t sufficient. And while I was reading, watching, listening, and journaling, I wasn’t documenting that process publicly, and my reluctance to share was partially because I knew I wasn’t doing enough. But it never will be. You called me in, and I heard you.

As someone who’s goal-oriented, I realized that I never created attainable benchmarks from a personal standpoint. This is just a start, but I’m sharing my plans for 2021 below.

From a personal side, here’s what I hope to accomplish in 2021:

  1. Continue to donate to causes and organizations that uplift the BIPOC community, including The Conscious Kid, Fair Fight, and The Bail Project.
  2. Continue to strive to be a proactive parent when it comes to talking about important topics – most notably, race – and have these conversations with Sloan on a daily basis. As I learned from one of her anti-racism books, A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory, “You’re more afraid than they are to talk about racism.”
  3. That 25 percent of the books I’ll read in 2021 are written by BIPOC authors. I’m starting with When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole.
  4. Subscribe to at least one recurring piece of anti-racism content (whether it be a text, a newsletter, or a podcast) and share the takeaways as I learn them. I’m considering ‘The Great Unlearn’ by Rachel Cargle (whose work on Instagram I find so enlightening) and Layla F. Saad’s ‘Good Ancestor Academy,’ but if you have any recommendations for me, please drop them below.
  5. Take one comprehensive anti-racism course per quarter (I can’t recommend Monique Melton’s courses enough).
  6. Continue to speak up when encountering injustice, whether it be amongst friends, family, or total strangers.
  7. Share more of the process on social and the blog, being fully willing to make mistakes and open to being corrected when I do.

As I learned from Monique, I can't just opt in and out of this work (a sign of my white privilege). It's a deliberate, constant action and I vow to do a much better job of sharing what I'm doing to be anti-racist from a personal level. This is an ongoing process and something I've committed to for the rest of my life, and there's always room for improvement. I asked that you hold me accountable and appreciate you doing so. Sending you all a lot of love and I look forward to even more progress in 2021.

xEmily

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