(Photo by Johnny Silvercloud)
For any company, it's challenging to be public about promoting equality without slipping into platitudes. But in the spirit of keeping ourselves accountable in our own small part of the world, we'd like to move beyond #blackouttuesday.
Here are the steps we're taking to make good on our promise.
We are taking three actions: something immediate and tangible to those promoting equality as their primary purpose, something mid-term emphasizing to our own sphere of influence how much #blacklivesmatter, and something long-term that affects us internally as a team and as human beings who have lives outside of the workplace.
The short-term: On Tuesday, we donated a significant amount (for us, at least) to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Lobbying, litigation, and activism may not be our company's core competencies, but as a diverse team, defeating racism is certainly one of our values. Donating to a storied organization that has long been skilled, experienced, and focused on combatting institutional racism allowed us to make some kind of tangible impact with specialists who know what they're doing.
The mid-term: Next, while we already consistently cover great Black American artists and industry professionals (without whom we wouldn't have an industry in the first place), we want to double down. June may be African American Music Appreciation Month, but we believe the whole year — and beyond — should belong to that effort. For the next 12 months, we'll be spotlighting more great Black American artists in our content marketing every month. It's humble, admittedly, but it's something we can do within our own sphere of influence. For the readership that we have, it will be at least one more touch point of awareness: Without Black Americans, the music you know and love today wouldn't exist. During and after this period, we'll remain aware of what other efforts we could sustainably give to this end.
The long-term: Third, we started an internal #blacklivesmatter Slack channel. We're a small team (less than 20 members), so we can afford to moderate an open, positive, and non-judgmental safe space for any team member that wants to join the conversation. All week, we've been using it to air out thoughts, emotions, and confusion in a way that may not affect our work directly, but it gives us a space to share racial equality resources and personal experiences. These conversations don't leave us once we shut down for the day, enjoy weekends, or, one day, move on from the company.
So, through sharing inspiring moments from the protests we've participated in, discussing questions regarding why there is violence in some protests, explaining the significance of this moment to our international team members who may not fully understand how deep racial injustice runs in America, admitting privileges that some of us have, and sharing music that embodies the frustrating oppression of Black Americans, the channel will remain open for dialogue. Hopefully, it will keep our team a little more open as human beings, too.
Already, activism in the music industry has rippled out into the greater digital sea and has even trickled onto the streets. We look forward to seeing how the music industry's efforts add up over time to tangible, positive steps toward change.