In the past three months, as a pandemic swept across our entire planet, we have been forced inward, both literally and physically. During this time I've continually questioned not only this platform and what it still means to me, but have taken a look at my life overall and asked myself some larger questions: What's bringing me joy? What parts of this blog do I still enjoy, and is it all sustainable? If I wasn't doing this... what else could I imagine myself doing?
I had drafted a post two weeks ago to talk about some of the things I was learning while time had slowed down, and then... everything shifted again.
We (white people, specifically) have been called to face some of the darkest parts of ourselves as a country, a world, and as a people. Those of us who have been in the position to do so much and have done the so little (or nothing) to help our black friends and communities in a fight against the systemic racism... well, the time has finally finally finally come to a reckoning.
I have seen many of my black friends angry, disappointed and disgusted that this is what it took to get here. I agree with them. I offer apologies that are far too delayed. I offer promises that I hope I can live up to. To listen and learn from them. From the books, classes and other resources that have been spreading like wildfire on social media and in social circles this week as we white folk all scramble to make up for lost time. But this is not a race. This is a life shift. This is a commitment.
Earlier this week, as I sat scrolling through my instagram feed, feeling overwhelmed at where to start, I decided to take a deep breath and make a plan. And that involved taking a good look at myself (a woman who has a million ideas for projects and follows through on like... 2% of them) and ask how I was going to make myself accountable to the work.
I made a list below of ways in which I will continue to show up, but I found one area in which I feel highly passionate about and that's Food. So, for me, that means pursuing more education on the topic of food justice.
What does that mean? I'm not even 100% sure yet. But I've started by signing up for a Food Justice 101 Course offered through Fresh Future Farm. I'm in the process of reaching out to farms and food organizations in the greater Seattle community - both urban and rural - to volunteer on their land as well as helping with farmers markets, distribution, etc. All of them are either black owned, or have been created with the intention of providing food and education to underserved communities. I've ordered several books on the topic, and am working to educate myself further on ways in which I can bring my skills to the table in a way that serves others.
Here are a few other ways in which I'm holding myself accountable - perhaps they'll be helpful to you as well.
- I will absolutely continue to sign petitions, make calls, and vocally advocate for the black community. The best way for me personally to do this is by subscribing to the newsletters of the many foundations, non-profits and organiations that have been suggested to us this week. Just think, that's action landing in your inbox daily or weekly to keep you accountable and informed.
- I mentioned above that I've made a longer term plan for myself. This includes signing up for anti-racism education classes and reading books to educate myself. Paying black people for this instruction and information, and having it come from them is essential. I'm happy to share these lists with you if you find it valuable, but many of them are saved in my instagram highlights under "Do the Work".
- Find an accountability buddy or two that you can have open conversations with. Remember that a lot of this work is self work, and having support around this is essential. So take time to rest and let new ideas integrate. Don't exhaust yourself or you'll quit. Pace yourself in a way that is sustainable. I feel lucky to have so many friends who have already been these people for me.
As a business, I am making the obvious commitments of diversifying the people, homes and product that I am showcasing on this blog and on my other platforms to not only include black designers and businesses, but all people of color. That said, I have decided that in order to truly shift this platform into a space that not only brings me joy but brings raises others up with it I will be hitting pause on my posts for the month of June. I need time to consider what's next for me and for Coco Kelley in so many ways, and continuing to provide daily posts feels like a distraction from the work.
I love this community - especially those of you who have been with me since the early days. But after 13 years in this space, it's time for me to step away and reconsider how to make it even better for all of us. I will continue to post on instagram as inspired to, and am always here if you have suggestions, comments or questions about things moving forward. I'm looking forward to seeing you in July with a clearer head and heart.
With love, Cassandra