We Promise to Work for Racial Justice

Photo by Stephanie Johnson

(Originally posted June 4, 2020)

All murder is tragedy. The murder of citizens at the hands of civil authorities is heinous. The murder of African American citizens by white police officers demonstrates systemic institutional racism older than the nation itself. The murder of George Floyd, no less the other countless black and brown people in this country dating back to 1619, is an indictment of our whole society.

Our Co-op operates within that society, and silence and inaction on our part at this time is unacceptable. We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Co-op is at heart a progressive organization. As such, we must strive to be better today than we were yesterday, and to be even better tomorrow. We must double down on our commitments to make the Co-op welcoming, inclusive, and equitable. And we must acknowledge that we've failed to always live up to these commitments in the past.

Everyone must feel safe, valued, and included when they set foot in our stores — staff and customers alike. If we can achieve this, our success will radiate from beyond our walls to the communities we serve.

Positioning is important — it is time to pick a side — but in itself, it's not enough. Action matters more, and there's much to be done. Our efforts to do better must become a top priority. Here are some first steps.

Doing a Better Job as a Business

Staff training and education for current staff on diversity, equity, and inclusion was begun on a limited scale last year. Plans to build on this initial training were sidetracked due to the pandemic. We will immediately begin planning for the next round of staff training on this subject, to be completed sometime this summer.

While we have seen some modest improvement in recent years in our percentage of staff who are non-white, there remains much work to do, particularly when it comes to the racial composition of the Co-op's management team. We will now explicitly state our intention to increase the racial diversity of staff and management, and we will incorporate that intention into our hiring and promotion practices.

We will re-write our vendor guidelines so that emphasis is placed on supporting local food growers and producers, as well as on woman-owned and minority-owned businesses. We will help our customers identify these vendors, and our buyers will be instructed to make this a priority when seeking out new vendors. We will begin tracking this information and report on our progress in our annual report.

Education & Advocacy

Each month, Weavers Way organizes a variety of workshops and seminars, often related to issues that are important to the Co-op, such as sustainability and nutrition. Going forward, we will make sure that our lineup of workshops and seminars includes a larger portion dedicated to understanding and combating institutional racism, the advancement of racial justice, and the important contributions of African Americans to the cooperative movement.

Please consider joining our workshop Thursday, June 18, "The Uneven Impact of COVID-19: How the Pandemic Is Impacting Our Neighborhoods and Disproportionately Taking its Toll on People of Color." This will be a virtual discussion presented by the Co-op's Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee on the uneven impact of COVID-19 on people of color in our neighborhoods. To sign up, click here.

We will use the Co-op's various methods of communication to educate, raise awareness, and report on issues related to institutional racism. We will dedicate space in our newspaper, the Shuttle, to articles and commentary on this subject, authored by people of color as much as possible.

We have committed that the guest speaker at our next general membership meeting (originally planned for May, but postponed due to the pandemic) will be an authority on a subject related to racial diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Financial Commitment

Every year, the Co-op supports hundreds of local non-profits, community associations, faith-based groups, and volunteer organizations with donations of food and cash. We will re-prioritize our giving to ensure that we are supporting more organizations working for social justice and the end of institutional racism.

As a first step, we have made a $1,000 donation to the Philadelphia Bail Fund, which works to secure bail for those who do not have the financial resources to secure their own freedom and strives to end cash bail. You can learn more about this organization here.

Next Tuesday, for our monthly "Giving Twosday" Fundraiser, we will ask all customers to make a small donation (suggested donation is just $2) to Color Of Change, the nation's largest online racial justice organization. Click here for more information about this organization and to join or make an additional donation.

We welcome suggestions from the community on what other steps we can take; please contact Weavers Way General Manager Jon Roesser at jroesser@weaversway.coop.