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A Message From our Co-Founder: Black Lives Matter

Salt & Straw and myself personally stand with the protestors in demanding our government and society take immediate steps towards racial justice and supporting equality. Our country is in such pain right now. The scars run over 400 years deep. 

I live in a household facing these issues on a daily basis -- as my husband and three beautiful children are black. I worry every time my husband is running late, knowing the smallest traffic violation could result in life-altering repercussions for him. We’ve moved our kids around to different schools to try to find environments where they are not met with regularly occurring, overt discrimination. As they show up bright faced, ready to learn, I don’t want that spark stolen from them. Every one of them have endured comments and innuendos about only being allowed in, included, or given an opportunity because of the color of their skin. This ongoing feedback wears on a person. My husband often says it’s like he’s moving through molasses, in that he’s not able to interact with the world at the same rate while carrying all of this around with him. It’s exhausting, confusing, terrifying, and damaging. It’s called trauma. Experiencing it on a daily basis has long-term effects for generations. 

Watching George Floyd gasp for air puts unimaginable images in my head knowing that could easily be my own family members on any given day. We join Floyd’s family in calling for the creation of a national task force to draft bipartisan legislation to end racial violence and increase police accountability. Our country’s approach to mass incarceration is quite simply modern day slavery. We have as many Americans with criminal records as college diplomas. We lock up our citizens at a much higher rate than any other developed country. Most of the people in our prisons are brown and black. This is not a coincidence. It’s directly tied to our history and the practices of our entire criminal justice system, including racial violence and profiling by our police force. A lot of change needs to happen to confront this painful reality and I know this work needs to come from those with a platform and cannot be shouldered by people of color. I am actively looking for ways that myself and Salt & Straw can make a meaningful impact with the platform we have. I proudly and humbly sit on the board of the Oregon Justice Resource Center in Portland. Pre-COVID, Salt & Straw has been working on a job training for women being released from prison as a part of their revolutionary pilot program providing broader support services for people exiting the system. I want to engage our broader community around this issue and put faces to the statistics so that people can start to understand this from a human perspective. We will be back to work on that as soon as is feasible -- as it’s taken on even more urgency. You can join by supporting OJRC and contacting your representatives to demand their support of a national task force on this issue.

The lack of access to healthcare and mental health services to people of color has only been highlighted by this pandemic. I also sit on the advisory board for the Avel Gordly Center for Healing, focusing on culturally-sensitive care for the African and African-American community. Realizing and understanding the effect that trauma has on health, they are providing these much needed services in partnership with a variety of community groups. This is a vital piece to healing our communities. To further support this type of work, we ask that you call upon your representatives to pass H.R 40 legislation that would create a commission to study and develop reparation proposals for African-Americans. We need to understand the trauma that has been inflicted over generations in order to treat it and heal together. Find your representative here

While I’m so sorry for the pain our communities are facing, I’m also hopeful as I see the efforts of the next generation of activists. I believe we can create a different reality together by showing up, demanding change, putting our ideas into action, and voting. We are all feeling the rally cry of being better and Salt & Straw will continue to look for ways to engage and set a new bar for ourselves on all of these fronts. If we do this work, we will all win together. For the sake of our children, we have to make this right. For more ways to get involved, please visit  #BlackLivesMatter

Community is everything to us here at Salt & Straw. The hospitality and restaurant industry is one big family and we are so thankful for the neighborhoods that have welcomed us with open arms. We encourage you to seek out and support black-owned shops and restaurants in your city. 

Organizations and Black change-makers our team is looking to for actionable steps and important updates:

Podcasts, books, movies, and TV shows we're consuming to understand how we can use our privilege to dismantle white supremacy and demand racial justice:

🎤Code Switch | NPR

🎤1619 | New York Times

📖The Warmth of Other Suns | Isabel Wilkerson

📖I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings | Maya Angelou

📖Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor | Layla Saad

📽️If Beale Street Could Talk | Barry Jenkins (Hulu)

📽️13th | Ava DuVernay (Netflix)

📺 Dear White People | Justin Simien (Netflix)

Ways our staff is getting involved:

  • Peacefully protesting
  • Donating to local bail funds and organizations like Equal Justice Initiative and Reclaim the Block
  • Signing petitions
  • Asking local reps to demand legislation for reparations

For more anti-racism resources, see this list compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein.