My father’s uncle invented the first fully mechanized sugarcane planter in Modeste, Louisiana, in 1964. He marketed the machine during the civil rights era, selling them for $6,000 and making a $1,000 profit. While he was eventually able to get a patent, he ended up losing about $11 million due to unauthorized copies of his machine. “Those white folks don’t like the idea of paying me that $1,000 royalty. If I were white, I’d be a millionaire by now,” my great uncle, Leonard Julien, Sr. told Ebony magazine in 1976. The technology used for his planter is still in use today.
My father’s family history is not in history books. It is pulled together from a line of oral history and newspaper clippings; stories that are untold, underappreciated, and buried deep beneath the whitewashed history learned from school books. For far too long, the voices of Black artists, writers, inventors, leaders, and educators have been discredited, devalued, and swept aside. But now, the confluence of the pandemic, Christian Cooper, George Floyd, and now Rayshard Brooks have finally created enough of a current groundswell and space to let “the streets speak for themself,” as Dave Chappelle summed up.
As a mixed-race woman, I feel deeply connected to these tragedies. Recently, I’ve been asked countless times, “How are you doing?” The answer varies depending on the day, and while I am angry, I am also thankful for my ancestors’ strength, resilience, and persistence. The struggles and injustices that members of my family have seen in their lives are vast and make any suffering I could directly speak to feel insignificant. I am fortunate to have gotten where I am today, yet I too suffer from “otherness” and am frequently met with race-based microaggressions. The past few weeks have invigorated me, and I am ready to let my voice be heard more than ever.
Threespot has been my home away from home (one and the same during COVID-19) for almost 11 years. I have seen and been a part of its evolution and am proud that we’ve always been home to a team of values-driven, justice-minded individuals. We work exclusively for organizations and socially responsible businesses that are advancing a society that is more humane, open, peaceful, and equitable. As a B Corp, we have spent the past six years redefining the success of our business around promoting a more inclusive and sustainable economy. All this to say, it is not enough.
While we’ve been quiet on social media for the past few weeks, we’ve instead spent time creating space internally for open conversations and caring for one another. We know we have a lot of work to do, and we have started to put plans into action. To accelerate the efforts we’ve been pursuing for the past year, we are engaging a Diversity, Equity, Race, and Inclusion consultant for training. We are honoring Juneteenth by hosting a letter-writing workshop to encourage our team to reach out to policy makers around racial justice and equity. We are doubling down on our support of our client, Color Of Change, and the incredible work they are doing to promote justice through comprehensive policing reform. We are going to continue to diversify our staff and support minority-owned vendors and partners. We are being thoughtful in how we move forward as an organization and we will by no means be silent.
Black Lives Matter.
My promise as president of the company is to create a space at and through Threespot where every member of our team and every organization we touch will be encouraged to push this conversation forward. We will seek opportunities to elevate and amplify justice for all. This is not a temporary commitment but one that I will ensure does not fade or falter.
We look forward to hearing from you and having your voice be an important part of this conversation. Together, we will make this change.