Black Lives Matter: A Letter to Our Community + Helpful ResourcesJune 2nd, 2020
We know black lives matter. And like many of you, we are experiencing feelings of grief, anger, worry—and the overwhelming desire to support a more equitable, just future for everyone. Today, we’re sharing a message from Nick Green, our CEO and co-founder, and James Meeks, our Head of Product + UX and leader of the Black Thriver Resource Group at Thrive Market. We’re also including the advice and resources shared by our social community.
A Message from Our CEO, Nick Green
The events of the last week in the wake of the senseless death of George Floyd have left all of us at Thrive Market feeling a rollercoaster of emotions, from grief to outrage. As a mission-based business, we’ve always had a zero-tolerance policy toward discrimination of any kind, in our company or with anyone we do business. But like many of you, we’ve been asking ourselves in recent days: How can we do more to combat systemic racism?
Today, I want to share with you where we’re starting.
First things first, we’re listening—to our employees, to all of you, and especially to our black Thrivers and members. In the last 24 hours, we’ve held a company-wide meeting focused 100% on what’s needed and how we can support. We’ve crowdsourced hundreds of ideas from Thrive Market members on Instagram. And we’ve gotten feedback from our Black Thriver Resource Group on the highest impact frontline organizations to get behind.
From these conversations, Sasha, Gunnar, and I have decided to personally donate $50,000 as Thrive Market co-founders to the Black Lives Matter Fund, whose proceeds go entirely toward combating police brutality and systemic racism. As a company, we’ve also decided to support all Thrivers who are giving by matching every employee donation 2-to-1 to three organizations selected by our black Thrivers: Black Lives Matter, the Know Your Rights Legal Defense Fund, and the Atlanta Solidarity Fund.
Most importantly, we’ve committed to make these efforts the beginning of a deeper ongoing conversation as a company about topics like race, justice, and equality—not as part of a political agenda, but as a concrete commitment to being a place where courageous conversations are both allowed and encouraged.
We’re grateful to all of you who have participated in that conversation already by sharing your experiences and perspectives with us, and we’re especially grateful to all of our black Thrive Market team members for their insights and leadership during these very difficult days. Now more than ever, we can only thrive together.
We’re addressing some of the questions and requests for additional information we’ve received from our members. Like many of you, we’re listening and learning, and we appreciate the opportunity to have an open dialogue during these times.
Why did you select Black Lives Matter for your donation?
Rather than individually select different organizations to support, our founders decided to direct their collective donation toward the organization that our black team members felt is having the most significant impact on the issues of police brutality and systemic racism. Since its inception in 2016, Black Lives Matter has been focused more than any other organization on these two issues specifically through its work to empower local communities using education, civic action, and the exercise of the constitutional right to peacefully assemble. We support the urgency of the BLM movement’s call to action and believe they have and will continue to play an important part in the movement to end systemic racism. For more insight into BLM’s stance on social issues, we recommend this New Yorker interview with BLM co-founder Opal Tometi.
In saying Black Lives Matter, are you devaluing the lives of other minorities or white people?
Absolutely not. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is not about valuing black lives over other lives, or saying that anyone’s life doesn’t matter. It is about calling attention to the way systemic racism in America has devalued black lives and reclaiming their equal value alongside all lives. BLM also does not deny that other minorities face discrimination. As a movement, BLM condemns all racism. Similarly, as a business, Thrive Market has a zero tolerance policy on all forms of discrimination, against any person based on their race or any other trait.
What is your position on the looting and rioting that has taken place during and following some of the protests over the last week?
We categorically condemn violence in all its forms. Peaceful assembly is a constitutional right, but we agree with President Obama’s observation earlier this week: “The minority of folks [during the past week’s protests] who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment, and detracting from the larger cause.”
Why are you mixing politics with business?
As a mission-driven business, we believe we have a responsibility to take a stand on issues that involve our values. For us, the events of the last week raised first and foremost moral questions, not political ones. We don’t believe that any political party has a monopoly on morality, so we don’t support any political party over another. In fact, as a business, we value diversity of viewpoints in the same way we value racial (or any other form of) diversity; we’re proud to have diversity of all types among our team members.
Why do you have a Black Thriver Resource Group? Can anyone join?
We empower our Thrivers to form Affinity Groups for any shared identity or experience (from ethnic heritage to hobbies to pets) around which they want to build a community. While our Black Thriver Resource Group was designed to support employees who identify as black, any Thriver can join the group as an Ally as a way to get involved and show their support. Projects that our Black Thriver Resource Group have spearheaded include company educational events during Black History Month and partnering with organizations like Black Girls Code, which introduces young black women to programming education and opportunities in tech.
How are you promoting equitable hiring practices? How many leaders at Thrive Market are BIPOC?
Our hiring practices are based on merit with care taken to ensure they are free from biases. Our People Leaders are aware of unconscious bias and our talent acquisition team works proactively to advertise, source, and encourage candidates from diverse backgrounds to create a workforce that most accurately reflects the communities we serve.
Our leaders at Thrive Market reflect our equitable hiring practices. Our Executive Team is ethnically diverse; four out of eight members (50%) of our Executive Team are BIPOC. Respectively, these Executives have diverse teams that are consistent with our values of hiring the best and most inclusive workforce available.
A Message from James Meeks, Head of Product + UX
For the last couple of days and weeks, members of the Black Thriver community and I have been asked how we’re feeling. It’s a tough question to answer, but I want to be fully transparent with all of you.
We’re hurt, disgusted, angry, scared, anxious, confused, exhausted, traumatized, and mentally drained. And the toughest part about all of this is that these feelings are essentially on repeat because racial injustice has always been a part of our lives.
I want to have an uncomfortable conversation with you this morning. For whatever reason, conversations about race make people in this country uncomfortable. But I believe the only way we can truly make progress is by becoming comfortable having these uncomfortable conversations.
Racial injustice is not a new thing in this country. The killing of unarmed black men and women is not a new thing in this country. Privilege is not a new thing in this country. But unfortunately, the color of your skin sometimes determines the privileges you are allowed in this country.
Clifford Glover, Claude Reese, Randy Evans, Yvonne Smallwood, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Jonathan Ferrell, Aiyana Jones, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Charleston 9, Sandra Bland, Corey Jones, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Terrence Crutcher, Keith Scott, Jordan Edwards, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Amaud Arbery, George Floyd.
These were all unarmed black men and women, who were killed doing things that most of us have done at some point in our lives. And this is why we’re not okay. As black people, we have to deal with the fact that our lives may be taken doing some of the same things that other Americans do every single day without fear.
We are not okay. I am not okay. Every morning at 6 a.m. I go for a run around my neighborhood. Before I leave the house, I’m faced with a decision that most people don’t have to consider:
Should I wear my hoodie or should I leave it at home?
I think: It’s colder in the morning, so I should probably wear one. But, on the other hand, what would my neighbors think if they saw a black guy running around this predominantly white neighborhood with a hoodie on? I stand in the mirror for a few more minutes weighing the decision. I ultimately decide to leave the hoodie at home. Now I’m fully dressed and ready to go exercise.
I go to my wife and tell her I’m going for a run. She kisses me and says, “I love you, but please be careful.”
We both know what that means. She’s not telling me to be careful because she’s afraid I’ll get injured while running. She’s telling me to be careful because she recognizes that, as a black man running around a predominantly white neighborhood, there is a chance that I may be killed and never make it back home.
It’s not even 6:30 a.m. in the morning and I’ve already had to think about my own mortality—twice.
This is why we’re not okay. As black people, we’ve become conditioned to deal with systemic racism and oppression. It’s been a part of our lives for so long that we’ve had to adjust how we live. Most of us go through things in this country that we never speak on—whether out of fear of judgement, retribution, or being accused of “playing the race card.”
I’m not telling you this because I want you to feel sorry for me, my fellow black Thrivers, or any of your black friends. I’m telling you this because I want to invite you into our world so that you all have a better understanding of what we go through everyday.
So again, check on your black friends and colleagues, because we are not okay.
Every day, we are forced to deal with a very stark reality in this country. That reality is that black lives don’t matter. When you see us post #BlackLivesMatter on social media, we aren’t trying to suggest that no one else’s life matters. We’re suggesting that other lives have been recognized, but ours still haven’t. We witness the killings of unarmed black people on camera all too often, but we have to wake up and act like everything is okay. We have to go to work with a smile on our face and spend 40+ hours a week acting like everything is okay.
We are not okay.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read “Maintaining Professionalism In The Age of Black Death Is….A Lot” by Shenequa Golding. It is an accurate depiction of the struggles we deal with mentally and emotionally as black employees.
While I think it’s important to talk about the problems, it’s equally as important to talk about solutions and what’s needed to move this conversation forward.
And our ask is simple: We need you. We need your voice. We need your support. We need your privilege. And we need you to become Allies while locking arms with us in solidarity. What you’re witnessing happen in this country right now is a by-product of the voiceless going unheard for so long. And what we need now, more than ever, is for those who have a voice and who recognize their privilege to really step up and use those things to help us fight and finally put an end to systemic racism and racial injustice.
Advice From Our Community
We asked, you answered. See how our community recommends standing up and speaking out for equality:
“Organizing mutual aid for my local Black community to fill the gaps while systemic change is pending.”
“Be willing to engage in hard conversations and stand in your convictions.”
“Diversify your news feed by following black influencers and lead protestors.”
“Buying children’s books that will help me explain what is happening with my kids!”
“Instilling love in my kids for all communities.”
“Continuing the conversation with my white friends and family members.”
“Signing petitions and educating my child.”
“I am stressing to my 14 & 12 y/o kids to LOVE and look around and really see others!”
“I am doing research and learning how I can be a better ally.”
“Buying books to better represent the diversity of our world.”
“I’m posting out reputable places to donate or businesses owned by POC.”
“Starting conversations, donating, being ready to listen and learn, spreading LOVE!”
“Confronting my white privilege, and using it to stand up against injustice.”
“Committing to listening better.”
Our Black Thriver Resource Group recommends supporting the following organizations and causes:
Black Lives Matter
Support of the movement and the ongoing fight to end state-sanctioned violence, liberate black people, and end white supremacy forever.
Know your Rights Camp Legal Defense Initiative
The Know Your Rights Camp Legal Defense Initiative has identified and teamed up with top defense lawyers in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area to provide legal resources for those in need. They believe that “when there is an injustice within our community, it is our legal right to address it, by any means necessary.”
Atlanta Solidarity Fund Support #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd Protestors in Atlanta
A fund to support people in Atlanta who have been arrested for taking action against social injustice. Focused primarily on bailing out arrestees, with priority for those who have the most need.
Official George Floyd Memorial Fund
George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, launched this fundraiser “to cover funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counseling, lodging and travel for all court proceedings, and to assist [his] family in the days to come as [they] continue to seek justice for George.” A portion of these funds will also go to the Estate of George Floyd, which is aimed towards supporting and caring for George’s children and their continued education. Their initial goal was to raise $1.5M, but as of June 1, they’ve raised over $8.2 million.
I Run with Maud Official Ahmaud Arbery Fund
This fundraiser assists Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, and her immediate family with financial support as they seek justice for Ahmaud’s murder. As of June 1, they have raised $1.1 million.