We inherited an earth with a growing carbon emission problem, just as we inherited an Earth with a racial inequity problem. A lot of research shows us that our environmental degradation and our social degradation are not so separate (links to articles below). In the US, we have an especially large problem with police, meant to protect and serve, killing innocent Black civilians. These are the facts. So what am I to do? Is this something I can address as a one-woman small business? These are the questions I’ve been asking myself over the past few weeks between protesting, listening, watching and reading to educate myself on the issues. The conclusion I have reached is that my business doesn’t matter if Black Lives don’t matter.
Let me start by saying a little about how and why I started my business. I find Flowy hard to categorize; It's a platform where I share information about wellness, yoga, environmentalism, and small-batch sustainable clothing. I’ll be the first to admit that Flowy, as a company tries to do too much. Especially as a one-woman operation. You might wonder, why does this chick make clothes, act like an environmentalist (those two already feel like they are in conflict at times), and teach Yoga? Let me try to explain. Yoga and meditation are my touchstones in life. They’re my prozac and I would not be able to function without them. So I got certified and started teaching in 2015. The more I was in that world of yoga, the more I wanted to redesign the clothing industry that is part of that world. All the synthetic materials and cheap, exploitative manufacturing processes are in direct conflict with the philosophies of yoga (more on this in another post). Clothing manufacturing is one of the leading industries contributing to carbon emission and environmental harm in the world. This lead me to want to create my own yoga and meditation clothing. I wanted my clothes to reflect the philosophies of yoga of non-harming, moderation, truthfulness, non-stealing, generosity, self-study, purity, and essentially live up to the Do’s and Don’t of the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
Flowy’s general mission is to create products, content and experiences that foster a deeper sense of loving connection with self and nature. In order to do that, I must do my part to break free from the racist and patriarchal structures that keep black people in a constant state of fear and anxiety. If you follow me, you have likely gleaned that I am I believe in the Chakra system. The root chakra is all about survival. Fearing for one’s life all the time means operating predominately from the Muladhara chakra, which makes it much harder to connect lovingly with the self and nature. Therefore, only after my BIPOC brothers and sisters do not need to fear for their lives will I truly be able to fulfill my mission.
I want to express my sincere, long-term commitment to being both an ally and an anti-racist small business. Steps that I will take affective immediately:
continuing to invest in black businesses
I will ask my vendors about their policies on diversity and inclusion.
continuing to run raffles that benefit organizations on the front lines of creating change
staying current on issues surrounding racism and sharing information that helps educate myself and others.
Continuing to share my platform with BIPOC individuals through the Flowy Collective
I will weave more historical context into my work with natural dyes - a craft that is deeply linked with Native Americans of north and south America as well is with slave labor in the states
Future actions if I ever grow from one woman operation:
Hiring will be BIPOC focused first and foremost
Team and staff training with a DEI certified consultant
I am sure there are others that I can’t foresee because I’m just nowhere near there yet, but I will be sure to revisit these promises regularly!
If you’re an environmentalist going out of your way to wear ethical clothing, you also need to be anti-racist going out of your way to abolish the racist systems of oppression and here’s why:
And here is a New York Times reading list and watch list to learn more about the connection between racism and the environment:
A book of Black nature poetry edited by Camille T. Dungy
More Anti- Racism Resources like books, tv, movies, and podcasts compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker & Alyssa Klein. Learning does not need to be daunting. Don't think you have to sit down and do it all at once. This can be a long pursuit, biting off a little bit at a time.