Black lives matter: Be part of the solution

As a business committed to driving positive change, we’re continually challenging ourselves to be better, for our pets, our planet and our community. We’re passionate about taking action and recent events highlight the increasing importance to do so.

Scrumbles is a small, but diverse company led by a person of colour (me, Aneisha). We are proud to work with a network of friends, colleagues, suppliers from a whole host of races and backgrounds. The chances are if you buy products from us, it was processed and packed by a person of colour and collected by another before it’s delivered to your home. We know Black Lives Matter, but in light of recent events it has never felt more poignant.

I’ve been personally surprised and moved by the number of brands, influencers and communities standing up to racism and putting purpose ahead of profits. As an avid tea drinker, seeing competitor brands Yorkshire Tea and PG Tips band together was a highlight. #Solidaritea

Solidaritea

Last week, we posted about #BlackOutTuesday in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Posting on social media is convenient and easy to do and it’s important that it doesn’t end there. The journey to positive change is nowhere near complete. There’s still so much more to do in the fight against racism and it’s crucial to not lose this momentum.Being anti-racist is an ongoing commitment and it’s crucial the conversation continues long after the trend on social media ends. Like many others, this particular issue hits home for us and we’ve spent time to reflect on how we can help take real action to be part of the solution, as a business, as individuals, and encourage others to do the same.

Why Black Lives Matter

Racism isn’t always obvious, which is why it’s important to be actively anti-racist. Silence is violence is a powerful phrase I’ve come to understand and see how we’re all currently part of the problem. We can all continue to educate ourselves on the problems of racial inequality and the power of our individual actions to tackle it.

There are lots of great books and films you can delve into to better understand the impact of racism and privilege on people, all of which paint the insidious effects of racism. Here’s my list (by no means exhaustive) of essential material:

  • Ava DuVernay’s “13th” a Netflix documentary which explores the abolishment of slavery and subsequent changes in criminalising people of colour
  • Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us” a 4-episode miniseries on Netflix about the true story and tragedy of five children falsely accused and prosecuted for the rape of a white woman
  • The Hate You Give” a film based on the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller by Angie Thomas exploring life in a predominantly black neighbourhood and relationship with the police
  • BBC’s “The Murder that Changed a Nation” examining the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Sadly the original 3 part episode is not live on the BBC (we’ve requested it!) but on their YouTube channel, there’s a mini version available
  • 12 Years a Slave”, directed by Steve McQueen is a chilling film based on a true story of a man’s brutal experience as a slave
  • I recommend reading the original “Noughts and Crosses” by Malorie Blackman which explores an alternative history where Africa colonised and enslaved Europeans. The BBC recently adapted the book into a TV drama with a modern spin
  • Dear White People” a Netflix TV series exploring the modern-day challenges faced by students of colour
  • This is England” a chilling movie which examines the 80s in England
  • Read about Jane Elliot’s infamous blue eye brown eye study and watch “The Eye of the Storm” with real life footage of the 1970 exercise
  • Read “Native – race and Class in the Ruins of Empire” which looks at the social, historical and political factors that have got society to where it is today, written in part biographical form by the hip-hop artist/writer/social entrepreneur Akala.

Keep the conversation going

“Once enough of you care, there will be nothing they can do to stop that change”

It’s an uncomfortable topic. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable was one of the earlier bits of career advice I was given. Quoting Dave Chapelle “critical mass is needed for change”, so we need to keep the conversation alive.

Young girl holding up a Black Lives Matter poster

As well as having those uncomfortable conversations with friends and family, here are some other ways we can all be part of the solution.

  1. Donate to relevant causes and spread the word:
  2. Sign Petitions – This takes seconds to do and helps to spotlight the issue and escalate this through the legal system. When you sign up to Change.org you’ll be kept informed of all the live petitions and causes that align to fighting anti-racism. Racism is a learnt behaviour, let’s teach anti-racism.
  3. Champion positive change at work – raise conversations internally and ask how your workplace is taking action. And don’t be afraid to challenge bad practices.
  4. There’s a shockingly low representation of POC in the business world and FTSE 100. Change the world with your pocket and support businesses who are doing the right thing or are run by POC. Here are some of my favourite businesses:
    • Niche Tea – delicious artisanal tea
    • Sincerely Nude – inclusive nude clothing for all skin tones
    • Pets and Pods – eco pet furniture (Boo’s current favourite bed!)
    • WufWuf – a surprise and delight subscription box for your pooch

Have a say – Don’t forget to vote!

Everyone’s voice matters but not everyone is registered to vote and of those that are, a high proportion still do not vote. Politics impact issues of systematic racism and police brutality and that is true of both local and national office. We need to elect government officials who will do what’s right. So, go out and vote at every level!

“The bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both.” – Barack Obama

Stay safe and know your rights

And for those of you that are taking part in protests, please stay safe and educate yourself on your rights. Hats off to Brixton’s Champion Agency launched the #KnowOurRights campaign last year which offers a handy guide.

  • The police officer must first give their name, their station, their grounds for searching you and what they expect to find. Without this the search may be deemed unlawful.
  • If you refuse to be searched, reasonable force can be used and in some cases you may be committing an offence.
  • You do not have to give your name or address.
  • You are entitled to a copy of the record of the search on the spot. If unavailable, you must be given a receipt and told how you can get a copy of the record.
  • Report any unfair, unlawful or inappropriate stop and search to Stop-Watch.org

What we’re doing as a business

  1. To keep the conversation alive, we’re going to use our social platform to regularly post about the causes we support including fighting racial inequality.
  2. Internally we are going to continue having open conversations on sensitive topics like this and discuss ways to tackle it. We hold ourselves as a company and as individuals to the highest standards of ethical business conduct and all employees are expected to adhere to our Code of Conduct.
  3. We give 3 days paid for everyone that works at Scrumbles to dedicate their time to animal welfare and social injustice causes. We’ll keep you updated with what our team gets up to throughout the year via our social media and newsletter.
  4. We’ll continue to pay all our employees and contractors the London living wage as a minimum and are currently exploring adopting a full salary and promotion transparency policy.
  5. We’ve updated our social media bios to link to spotlight Black Lives Matter and causes we support to keep this front of mind for our shoppers.
  6. We’re sending out communication to our suppliers and network to understand what they are doing to tackle racism and challenge and share practices on what more can be done.
  7. We’re an early stage business that doesn’t yet yield profits. We make assumptions on what our profits would be and regularly donate food and funds to the causes we support. Jack and myself have made contributions as individuals and will match the donations of our team.

Please keep feeding back ideas and suggestions as we’re always looking to do more. And above all don’t lose hope. It will be a long, tough journey but together we’ll get there. X