To our community:
There’s no such thing as “the great equalizer” in a system built to maintain inequity.
From climate change to COVID, Black communities have been and will be hit the hardest. Such has been the pain, tragedy, discomfort, despair, and piercing silver lining of 2020: we as a nation are finally waking up to the inequities built into our systems and seeing them in plain sight.
We are saddened and outraged by the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many others; by the systemic racism and white supremacy that has and continues to shape America’s policies, laws, and institutions, as well as our daily behavior and biases that perpetuate unjust systems; and by the fact that ‘Black Lives Matter’ needs justification.
Within our industry, too, we see how these systems have been at play. Black families have been denied generational wealth through historic redlining and systemic racist policy. Black and POC communities are hit hardest by the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation. Racism even derails our attempt to fight the climate crisis by distracting Black climate activists from focusing on saving the planet with the burden, pain, and trauma of experiencing explicit and implicit racism every single day.
And yet, we are hopeful. Because we are in the midst of the largest civil rights movement in world history. Because we are witnessing—and participating in—protests in all 50 states and 18 countries. Because on Sunday, Minneapolis City Council members announced their intent to disband the Minneapolis Police Department and invest in community-led public safety. And because dismantling “business as usual” is a necessary step toward building an environmentally restorative and socially equitable world.
As we hold this sadness, outrage, and hope, we cannot speak in solidarity without acknowledging we are part of the problem. This revolution is urgent and we’re inexcusably late to it. stok was founded with social justice in our purpose and equity at our core. We pride ourselves on being inclusive, open, and accepting of all. But this movement is making us take a good hard look at our policies, and more importantly, the practices that back them up. And we’ve found that while the intent is there, our actions toward that impact are woefully lacking. To date, stok’s direct action in becoming an antiracist organization and contributing to positive systemic change for Black communities has been virtually nonexistent.
Social justice cannot wait. It is not an add-on to environmentalism–they depend on each other. We know silence is not an option and we will not allow this statement of solidarity to be empty words. We are committed to doing better. stok is taking immediate action, starting with:
#1: Donating $15,000 across the following organizations actively supporting Black communities:
• NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund – fighting for immediate structural change
• BU Center for Antiracist Research – leading racial research, research-based policy innovation, and data-driven educational and advocacy campaigns
• The Loveland Foundation – providing free therapy for Black women and girls
• Black Voters Matter – increasing voter registration and turnout, and advocating for policies to expand voting rights
• Color of Change – organizing campaigns that create a community-led movement for racial justice
#2: Matching employee donations of up to 4% of our gross profits for 2020–estimated to be up to an additional $75,000.
These donations can be made at any time during 2020 and at any scale of activism supporting Black communities, including national organizations, local organizations, and individual work.
#3: Forming an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accountability (IDEA) Task Force to research and implement both immediate and strategic, long term initiatives to dismantle systemic racial injustice, ensure equitable representation in our industry, and guide stok in becoming an antiracist organization, including:
• Making space for meaningful conversations within our industry to advance antiracism and social justice
• Investing in an internship program for Black high school students
• Establishing recruiting relationships with historically Black colleges and universities
• Providing resources to facilitate the use of stok volunteer hours to support the Black community
• Bringing on a strategic advisor from the Black community
#4: Creating an internal platform for stok team members to engage in ongoing discussions and share resources to be actively antiracist.
We’ll be sharing some of the resources that have resonated most with us as we continue to learn (and unlearn).
This is a movement, not a moment. We have a lot of work ahead of us. It cannot stop in a week, or a month, or a few years, and we cannot do it alone. To our clients, partners, friends, and community, let’s do this work together. In addition to the commitments above, we are humbly listening. Let’s share and amplify Black voices, and learn and act together.
In solidarity and action,
Your stok family