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Anti-racism, Decolonizing and Equity Brand Work

With more at-home time on my hands lately I’ve found myself on my hands and knees in our yard, digging up weeds in our makeshift vegetable garden and our sad excuse of a lawn. Some of them come out quite easily, but others, like dandelion plants, have deep, strong roots that cling to the clay they call home. The soil closest to our house seems to have the most dense clay, which can make weeding difficult.

I’m a very sporadic and spontaneous weeder. We’ll be playing fetch with the dogs and I’ll see a particularly large dandelion plant and go at it. More often than not, the plant snaps loose from the thick, long roots that cling to the tough Manitoba clay that makes up our yard. Every once in a while, though, the root will release its grip on the earth and come clean out. Man, do I feel accomplished when the root comes out! You see, if the root stays in the weed will just regrow, stealing the nutrients from the grass.

As I was pulling out weeds in our front yard recently I was thinking about a different kind of weed that I need to start paying attention to. This weed is more dangerous, less useful than the dandelion, that at least provides pollen for the bees, even if they are making my yard look like shit. This weed has stolen nutrients from my spirit for too long and made it look like shit too. Racism and white-supremacy have taken up too much real estate in my life. I’m ready to the work of weeding it out, and I’m ready to dig them out by the roots.

Inspired by the townhall “Reimagining Small Business” and the accompanying pledge, I decided to embark on a brand audit, focusing specifically on the values and vision of Christina W. Kroeker Creative, reimagining a more equitable and anti-racist small business. The townhall and pledge, was organized by Rachel Rodgers, Ericka Hines, and Susan Hyatt, along with Robert Hartwell, Sonya Renee Taylor and Nathan Berry. I highly recommend reading their pledge, and if you are a small business owner, signing and beginning your own work.

From my brand audit, I’ve decided on five areas as my brands starting point.

1. Accountability I have to start with accountability, recognizing that I am accountable to my clients and my community and welcoming criticism and correction specifically regarding my own biases and blindspots. I know that I cannot allow my perfectionist tendencies to keep me in inaction (thank you Rachel Rodgers for the permission!) and this means that I will get it wrong (A LOT) and I need to practice accepting corrections and implementing changes when I’m being called out. I’m terrified, but bring it on. Thank you.

2. Education Simply put, I commit to learning from BIPOC voices and teachers and PAYING THEM for that education. This needs to be in every area of my business which means I cannot only turn to those teachers to help me in my anti-racism self-development. This means finding BIPOC educators for my crafts (photography, stained glass/visual art, and writing) and for my business (entrepreneurship, business strategy, bookkeeping, etc.). Have someone you would recommend? Please share (comment, email, dm).

3. Network/Growing My Trusted Circle I would like to grow the circle of people that influence my business but I recognize that this can often be done insensitively, resulting in the tokenizing of BIPOC. I will be prioritizing BIPOC vendors and ‘models’ (I generally use real couples) in styled shoots and collaborations.

As a Winnipeg/Manitoba wedding photographer, I have also seen the need to create a referral circle, if you will, in the case that I find myself with a high-temperature or with symptoms related to Covid-19 and need a last-minute associate to capture a wedding. I would like to prioritize local wedding photographers who are BIPOC. This referral circle must also be LGBTQ+ affirming. Know anyone who would be a good fit? Send them my way.

4. Budget Audit My goal is to dedicate 30% of my business spending to BIPOC owned suppliers and businesses. Currently, I’m looking at the different expense categories in my business budget to find space in my supply chain where I can direct money to BIPOC businesses, ideally one that are local.

5. Solidarity I commit to amplifying local BIPOC entrepreneurs, creatives, businesses and activists using my platform. I recognize that in anti-racism, decolonizing and equity work, BIPOC need to be the leaders and at the forefront. In solidarity I will also be better vetting individuals and businesses I work with to insure that the partnerships and jobs I take align with these values.

Solidarity, in part, means acknowledging the land I and my business occupy, as a settler; Christina W. Kroeker Creative acknowledges that we are in Treaty 1 territory and that the land on which I am able to do business is the traditional territory of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

I recognize that implementing all of this will entail a million fuck ups on my part along the way, but I’m not shying away from this work. Hold me accountable.

This year, we expanded our garden a bit to include carrots and onions, amongst our tomatoes, sweet peas and sunflowers. We planted late, though, growing seedlings on our porch around mid-May, and so our plants are all still quite small and young. We should have planted earlier.

I feel the same about this work; I should have started sooner. I should have planted these seeds earlier. I wish that I was further along, closer to the harvest. I wish that my spirit, soul, life or whatever you wish to call it, could already bear the fruit of anti-racism, decolonizing and equity work, but I’ve only just planted the seed. There is much work to be done, much weeding, much uprooting of white-supremacy in my own heart and mind. This is only the beginning.

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