Doing The Work | Black History Month

February is Black History Month, a time to reflect, grieve, celebrate, and learn. 

In being tasked to write a piece for Black History Month, I feel the need to get it right – as if what I write here will change the course of systemic and wide-reaching injustices – and obviously that’s a fallacy. Perhaps not the first one I’ll make in the course of these paragraphs. Certainly not the first one I’ve made in my anti-racist journey as a privileged white woman. But I do believe that the changes we make on an interpersonal level have an impact on our communities and world at large. This brand in particular has had a mindset of community-building and connection since it's inception. Doing the work during Black History Month and beyond is an important continuation of fostering an inclusive, anti-racist, and thriving community. 

Recently the OKGN team had the benefit of attending a workshop led by Mimi Mutahi of Tahi and Woldu Advising (who also happens to be our amazing Sales and Community Lead). One of the many important ideas she conveyed to us is the concept of intention vs. impact. We can all have the very best of intentions when it comes to our approach to inclusion, but if the impact is not aligned with the intention, in fact if the impact is harmful, then we're missing the ultimate goal. This month and every month after, what we as white and non-Black people are being tasked with is doing the work and educating ourselves on racism and Black History. We have an obligation to then turn that knowledge into commitment and action with the goal of equity and justice and bettering our community, starting at home, for all. Each one of our team members has made a personal commitment to actionable steps they can take in the coming weeks and months toward anti-racism. As you continue learning on your own anti-racism journey, we hope you'll join us in making a few commitments of your own. Below you will find a list of local Black-owned and led initiatives, organizations, and businesses to support here in the Okanagan. 

The Black community has experienced tremendous trauma, trauma that deserves justice and part of that justice includes Black joy, rest, and healing. In writing this I think of Mimi's laugh and her exceptionally radiant presence along with a quote I read recently by Drew Lanham: "Joy, in part, is the justice we give ourselves." This month in doing the work, we hope to make more space for Black joy - to see it in our parks, our coffeeshops, and here in our own workshop. We hope you'll celebrate that joy and resiliency everywhere you see it. 
Portrait of Mimi Mutahi by Jon Adrian, Portrait of Mabaleka Music, Malusi and Kozy by Emma Tassie, Portrait of Brent Carmichael by Jon Adrian. These individuals pictured have had a huge impact on our learnings and continue to be an integral part of Okanagan Lifestyle and the Okanagan community. We celebrate them. 

Black-led Local Initiatives:

November Project Kelowna: Offering free workouts and accessible exercise for everyone. Just show up! Follow: @novemberprojectkelowna

The Eighty-Six Project: The 86 project is an initiative geared towards building Mental Health awareness in the hospitality and service industries. Follow: @theeightysixproject

Turn Fears into Gears - Positivity Box Initiative: Brent Carmichael is on a mission to make our community a kinder, more inclusive place by giving positive rewards to those in the community who are open to promoting diversity, inclusivity and growth. Follow: @turnfearsintogears

UBC Okanagan African and Caribbean Student Club: This month they're highlighting amazing community members and businesses on their instagram. Follow: @ubcoacsc

Black-owned Local Businesses: 

Tahi and Woldu Advising | @tahiwolduadvising

FlueRich Floral Creations | @fluerichcreations

Bravve Botanicals | @bravvebotanicalsco

Elyspired Creations | @elyspiredgiftboxesandbaskets

Grey Hearts Denim | @greyheartsdenim

Lolin by A Jewelry | @lolinbyashop 

Other resources and recommendations:

Explore the selection of Black History and ant-racism books at Mosaic Books.

Attend UBC Okanagan Equity and Inclusion Office Through the Lens event, I Am  Because You are vs I Am Because You Are Not on February 10th and Anti-Blackness after 2020 on March 10th. 

| Written by our OKGN writer-in-residence, Nicole Gerber @nicole.etc