Thoughts on racism and the current civil unrest…

I didn’t want to write this. I really, really didn’t want to write a letter to state publicly that my small company is not racist, and that we support the painful ongoing struggle for racial equality in this country. That black lives matter. Because, of course they do. Of course, I think a black life is worth the same as a white life. Do I really have to step out, use my platform and say it? Yes. I suppose I do. Here’s why:

Throughout my life, I have been deeply molded, affected and shaped by people of color. Mrs. Coleman, my 3rd (and 4th) grade teacher, taught me to close my eyes and hear the world around me. Hear my own heartbeat, “but only if you’re quiet enough to listen”. Bruce, the kindest soul I know, life-long best friend since we began making music together in our teens. We moved to Memphis and by his side, I experienced the racism directed toward him by my own family. But if he wasn’t welcome to eat at my aunt’s, I wasn’t either, and we would both be hungry that night. 

Then there’s Jai. He joined the Twelve South team early on and from that moment, he has been making me a better leader, a better artist, a better human than I would have been without him. He’s a vital creative partner and one of my most trusted advisors as we work side-by-side every day. I have watched him grow as a creative person and a leader in his own right, touching hundreds of people with his kindness and inspiration in the creative & foodie communities in Charleston.    

These amazing human beings, these people that have made me who I am today, don’t wake up in the same country I do. They don’t have the same privileges I do. And they don’t get to share the same peace and sense of security I do from the time I get up in the morning till I go to bed at night. This is because of the color of their skin, and a deep-rooted racism our country was built upon and has never quite learned to address or preempt.

The senseless murder of George Floyd by a police officer - but really the pocket-sized cameras that recorded it - have again enraged people of color and all who share their grief and anger, and that includes me. We are marching and donating and demanding that something has to change. I will be honest with you; I don’t know what that is. And I know reversing centuries of embedded racism will not happen overnight. But maybe, just maybe this time, maybe the pain is too great not to change, and this won’t just fade away. Maybe we will dig deep and find big ideas and initiatives that lead to real, lasting change - forever this time. 

I will be there. I will do what I can for Jai, Bruce, Mrs. Coleman - but also for my daughter who deserves and desperately wants - a more just society to live in. To be honest, my kids’ energy in this moment is one of my greatest signs of hope. It helps fight my own cynicism and fear that this mountain is just too big to move.

I will stay involved and give of my time and resources. I will encourage our whole team to do the same as they feel led. Twelve South is not an activist company - we make stands for MacBooks - and that’s ok. But if you want to know where my heart is as our co-founder and leader, I will stand up to racism any way I can. I will be an ally in the fight to make meaningful change now. I will tell anyone who needs to hear, black lives do matter - and it’s time we take the steps to prove it and make this country a better, more equal, more just land for everyone.

 

Andrew Green / Twelve South

 


What now?

What to do next, right? Here are some tips and resources my family has found helpful.

Supporting local black-owned businesses and restaurants. Google it, I bet you find great lists in most cities. If you’re ever in Charleston - here are great places to shop or visit. And dining? OMG, here are just a few.

Watch movies and documentaries to expand your understanding. My family has recently watched the documentary 13th (wow), Selma, Harriet and, of course, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, June 7th episode.

Donate money. We asked our three kids to pick a charity they would like to donate to and we gave on their behalf. We will continue to put our personal resources where we think it can make the biggest impact and difference.

Attend and participate in a protest or march. I promise, most of the recent protests and marches have been peaceful. Besides the marching, often at the beginning or end, people get up and speak and share their personal experiences and stories. It can be heavy. You might not have ever heard this kind of direct pain and hardships, but I promise you you’ll never be quite the same again. And that’s a good thing.

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