We are deeply saddened by the destruction of businesses in downtown Charleston and across the nation, but we are more outraged at the killing of innocent black people. We believe the anger and frustration being displayed is valid. Unfortunately peaceful protests and being “strong” have done nothing to change the inequities and the racism in our country or state. We stand by our local businesses and will continue to do everything we can to help them pick up the pieces. Our businesses simply cannot survive more set-backs this year and our community must continue to be there to rally behind them. But as Blue Bicycle Books so eloquently said, “lost merchandise weighs a whole lot less than lost lives.”
While we had not planned on publicly proclaiming this work at this time, we feel it important to let it be known that we are working toward becoming a proactively anti-racist organization. It will take time. It will take community input. It will take introspective evaluation as individuals and as a collective. It will require ongoing reading, listening and learning. It will require that we open our hearts and minds. It will require discomfort. It will no doubt demand changes to our work. This work may very well make some members of the community uncomfortable. But we believe that there can not be a resilient local economy without equal access for all to participate in it and benefit from it.
We recognize that we are one of many white-led nonprofit organizations in our area and that the majority of our team lives and works from a place of privilege. But we want to do better. We cannot stand by and shake our heads. We must act. We invite you to join us.
To our black staff, our black-owned businesses, our black board members, our black neighbors and friends — we see your pain. We commit to walking this journey by your side.
– Lowcountry Local First