“People are opting out of vital conversations about diversity and inclusivity because they fear looking wrong, saying something wrong, or being wrong. Choosing our own comfort over hard conversations is the epitome of privilege, and it corrodes trust and moves us away from meaningful and lasting change.”
Brené Brown – Dare to Lead, 2018
A personal message from Susie Fife
As a business owner, I’ve always valued my company’s role in making a positive impact in our community. I strongly believe that businesses can solve social problems if brave leaders are willing to settle into discomfort, have some tough conversations, and invest time and money into intentional efforts. At Red Orange, Theresa and I are looking closely at how we recruit, interview, and hire our employees and interns. We’re committed to improving the way we look for partners on projects, to whom we award pro-bono work, and the type of professional groups we belong to.
As a wife of a Caribbean-American, and a mom raising three bi-racial children, I’ve already tasted the bitterness of my own biases, privilege and lack of understanding. Yet even after 15 years of marriage to a man who teaches African American Studies and Psychology at an HBCU, and after becoming quite comfortable as the racial minority in several of my social circles, I am still continuously humbled. I realize I have so much more to learn and so much more to do.
Our team has been watching closely to see how brands are responding and communicating their stance on these social issues. Companies are being asked by stakeholders to back up their core values with words and actions. There is a new level of discovery that needs to be a part of the visual identity for brands in every industry. And there is a demand for transparency around a brand’s efforts and policies related to diversity, equity and inclusion. As designers, we are embracing the opportunity to include historical research into our branding design concepts and to expand our discovery phase to really listen to stakeholder perspectives.
I’m optimistic and I’m motivated by the empathetic communication and collaboration taking place between business owners and leaders. There is huge potential for true and lasting change. I’m incredibly thankful to be surrounded by an amazing team, many of whom advocated for justice in various forms for many years. In a moment of authenticity and vulnerability (Brené Brown would be proud), each team member has chosen to share their thoughts and steps toward more understanding. We realize that this type of transparency has the potential to be critiqued, and that’s why I’m so proud of my team who cares just as deeply as I do about being brave, listening, learning, changing and taking action. As one of my friends says, “If you knew me, you would like me.” If you knew each of these amazing people like I do, you would know their hearts and intentions of love. Each team member truly embodies our core value: “Be transparent; be real; be humble.”
“During this time, my heart has been extremely heavy. I’ve found solace in conversations with my friends, family, children and as a voice in our community recently on the Stay Curious podcast. Being provided the space along with others to be heard was very impactful. Sometimes you simply need to freely express your heart and thoughts in a safe space and learn from others through their experiences. Particularly for me, it is the importance of knowing I am empowering and raising a generation that will one day be our leaders. This has been a time of reflection, engagement and mobility towards actively being part of the change we want to see.”
“Praying with others, listening, and reading helps me see through a larger lens the personal experiences, injustices, and struggles African Americans and the marginalized still face in today’s environment. I’m continuing to stand for God’s heart of racial equality, healing and reconciliation, and supporting Be The Bridge to promote much-needed change.”
“It’s one thing to support a business by word of mouth but its more impactful to support with your finances and resources. One step that I have taken to help my community is by purchasing more products from black-owned businesses. Knowing that most African American business owners fund their own business due to the lack of capital. My hope is that these businesses will be celebrated and loved in the community. Here’s a resource to help others in our community learn the history of Juneteenth.“
“I’ve been having conversations with my family about white privilege and the importance of recognizing it and being aware of the different experiences of others. I also recommended that my Book Club read the book So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Our group discussions are always insightful and respectful, so I’m looking forward to talking openly and learning more with a trusted group of friends from diverse backgrounds. I’d also like to take a course on African American history. This one from Yale is being offered for free right now.“
“I’ve spent much of my time trying to listen and learn what I can do to be a better ally to Black people and fight systemic racism wherever I can. While I made donations to the Richmond Community Bail Fund and read and shared articles, I felt like there was still more I could do to offer support. So, I went to one of the first few protests in Richmond and found myself amongst thousands of others in our community, of all ethnicities, ages and backgrounds, marching and making the voice of this movement heard loud and clear across the Commonwealth. It was one of the most inspiring things I have ever been a part of, and has motivated me even more to do what I can to propel this much needed, long overdue reformation in our country.”
“I believe a lot of people (like myself) want to grow and change, but don’t know where to start. In the midst of being overwhelmed and in need of much change, I am thankful to have guides in my life pointing me to truth. My church has been that guide over the years, and especially over the past couple of weeks. I would also like to mention a great resource, Arrabon – “We exist to equip you and your community to effectively engage in the work reconciliation.” If you are looking for practical resources this is a good place to start. And if you are looking for ways to support the important work of reconciliation and transformation in our community, please look into supporting Arrabon or For Richmond.“
“I’m trying to be a sponge—to absorb as much information as I can. I want to learn as many perspectives as possible, so I’m digging into what I know best—books. As an avid reader, I set goals for myself each year, and I’ve dedicated the second half of 2020 to reading books written by Black authors that tell black stories. I have about thirty so far (still growing!), and I’m trying to work my way through that list by the end of the year. Additionally, I’m trying to order from Black-owned bookstores while doing so to make sure that they are supported. I just placed my first order with Mahogany Books in Washington, DC and I can’t wait until they get here so I can continue digging in! I’ll be sharing what I’m learning (and my library) with others along the way. ❤️ “
“As recommended, I’m taking a diversified approach to helping combat racial and social injustice. In addition to reading, listening and challenging my own biases, I’ve also donated to a non-profit called Campaign Zero. They aim to help POC by focusing on reform in our police departments through top-down policy change.”
“I’m working with a group in my church to create an evening where Rev. C. Stanley Morton, an African American preacher in our denomination, will speak with us about his experience and what we can do in ourselves and our church to address racism. Be the Bridge is a resource that’s been recommended to me as a place to start.”
Every day as designers we work with colors. To say there is no difference between them is to say they don’t matter. But they do matter. Color matters. Culture matters. Differences matter and our differences are what make us beautiful.