There is no denying that there is a really powerful movement happening surrounding racism, diversity, and inclusion. I know that many of us, including myself, have been slowing down and taking the time to learn and unlearn.
Last week, September 29th, Monique Melton, an influencer, educator, and activist, released a free 21-day liberation challenge for all folks. After finding out about this, myself and the girls on Team Jilly were excited to take part in this journey and join in on the challenge. Today, I thought this would be a great opportunity to share her challenge with you along with some of my personal findings from the reflection questions. I want to note here that these are only my personal insights and reflections and I am by no means an expert here but rather doing the best I can with what I know and what I am currently learning every day.
Plus, I also thought this would be a great opportunity to update you with where we are at as a company regarding diversity and inclusion. I know that many of you are interested in this update in general. Our learning, unlearning, and work, is never done but these are some of the things that we have currently implemented at JHD. If there are other areas that you think we can improve in surrounding these topics we are open to hearing your feedback!
What we have implemented at JHD
2. We have hired an HR team that specializes in diversity, Career Contacts.
3. We have acknowledged the Indigenous land that we live and work on. We have acknowledged the land that we live on by adding it to the bottom of all Team Jilly member’s signatures and by taking a moment to acknowledge the land where our offsite meetings are held.
4. Hired Sabrina Meherally and her team for a full-day Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training for our team.
5. We have expanded our team library with novels from a diverse group of authors and topics. You can check out our list on our JH the Brand IG highlight here.
6. Hired and showcased a diverse group of contributors on our page such as Coach Carey, Kekuli Cafe, Shayla Stonechild, Chef Andrea Callan from Indigenous World Winery, Jean from Salt N Sear Catering, and Veggie Peggy. Our contributor list is currently growing and we are so excited to share with you the new and returning contributors we have lined up for the next couple of months.
7. We have donated over $32,000 to BIPOC Charities.
9. We are listening to podcasts and taking workshops (specifically Monique Melton’s 21-Day Liberation Challenge).
10. Having challenging conversations within the team and with the brands and influencers that we collaborate with to ensure that they are representing a diverse group of people through marketing, photography and design of products.
Monique Melton’s 21-Day Liberation Challenge
We are so excited to support Monique Melton with her 21-Day Liberation Challenge. I will say that it is a lot of work, but I am doing my absolute best to keep up with it. I truly believe that this course is so important for our present and future generations, in order to make an impactful change we all need to do the work! Head on over to Monique’s website here for all of the challenge details.
Today, I wanted to take a moment and share with you some of the answers to my reflection questions. I don’t feel comfortable sharing all of them but I have picked out a few to share with you today!
1. How often do you engage in the work of anti-racism? And in what way? And is this felt in the Black community, in what way? And how do you know?
I am going to be completely honest, I don’t think I have the right answer for this, but I will share my true and honest thoughts. 7 months ago, I unintentionally was not doing anything to engage with the black community. However, over the last 6 months, I have learned about systemic racism and how it is deeply rooted in our society; it affects many BIPOC to this day. Systemic racism has prevented BIPOC from being given the same opportunities that I have been given. While my work is never done, these are the things that I am doing to help dismantle systemic racism: supporting BIPOC businesses, sharing my platform with BIPOC educators and influencers and making sure that they are paid fairly, understanding what it means to recognize the land that you live on, donating to various BIPOC charities and figuring out how we can support in the future financially. Engaging in work by BIPOC authors, influencers, educators and artists.
One of the things that I have been consistent with is making sure my actions are not white savourism and that I am doing my best to not be a performative ally. This is not easy, to be honest, I am constantly checking myself and asking “why I am doing the things I am doing. I care about others, I want to be a good human, I want to help but that can also be dangerous as it then becomes about how my work is making ME feel instead of the impact that it has on BIPOC so that is a work in progress”. I can’t fully tell you how it has been felt throughout the black community because I am not looking for praise. However, I have received feedback from a few BIPOC brands that I have partnered with and they have given me feedback that I am on the right track and to keep on going. I want to reiterate to you that this work is not done for praise or a badge. I think I am on the right path but the work is only just beginning and doesn’t end here.
2. Allyship is not the goal…what is? How do you avoid needing a title for this work?
It is a hard thing to wrap your head around because as a collective we are very goal-oriented. Instead of thinking of allyship as a label, I challenge you to think of it as an everyday action. I think allyship is a continual action of learning and unlearning, being open-minded, voting, donating, and supporting the BIPOC community.
3. How do you respond to correction from Black women?
In an effort to be completely transparent, I have not dealt with correction in the past from black women or anyone very well. I always felt like I had a big heart and was open-minded but I was in a state that I could do no wrong. To anyone reading this and anyone who has tried to give me feedback in the past and if I didn’t take it well, I am sorry! It’s never an easy pill to swallow if someone tells you that you are doing something wrong but that’s not the point. When you can, remove yourself from the situation and try to understand where they are coming from and always assume good will.
4. Have you ever invested in an anti-racism class or course and completed the course?
Yes and no, again being completely transparent I signed up for Monique Melton’s Anti-racism 101 “crash course”, did it, and loved it. I also downloaded the audiobook, Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad. I listened to the entire book, but I didn’t get through the journaling portion, which is the most important piece. I have started this process again and am committed to doing the journaling. I also have hired a non-white DEI consultant who provided the girls on Team Jilly and I with a full-day training on diversity and inclusion.
5. Do you believe that you are doing enough with redistributing resources?
As an influencer, I think I am really lucky that I have a voice and a platform to share information. However, I am trying to be careful with the information that I do share as black folk are not a monolith. There are many recourses, information, educators out there, not all have the same messaging. I want to make sure I am still staying true to myself while sharing this information. I am slowly learning and as I feel comfortable redistributing those resources. This is something that plays a big part in my brand shift, while I may not be sharing these resources personally I am sharing my platform with BIPOC influencers and business to teach our community and share their resources! If there is anyone out there reading this that believes we can do better I am really open to hearing your thoughts!
Well, there you have it! A list of what we are doing as a brand to make a shift to be more inclusive and diverse and some of my reflection questions from Monique Melton’s 21-Day Liberation Challenge. If you are interested in her course please check it out here.
Disclaimer: I don’t know if these answers are right or wrong, but I do feel that it was important to share this information with all of you today!