Richmond, Virginia, May 30 & 31, 2020.
Riots. Protests. Police cars and city busses in flames. Storefronts destroyed. Hastily scrawled graffiti on confederate monuments. A city-wide curfew. These are scenes here in Richmond, Virginia, and they are mirrored in cities across the nation.
As a business owner, it pains me to see other businesses destroyed. But protestors are not the problem; they are symptoms of the pain caused by systemic racism and injustice.
I am a champion for racial equality and believe we should all be treated equally. But that’s not reality in America; racism is reality in America. This country has a legacy of black oppression—slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, felony disenfranchisement, redlining, the war on drugs and mass incarceration—that continues to this day with harassment and injustice.
I do not condone violence and destruction, but I understand how the pain of racial injustice by the police has led to the scenes playing out here and across America this weekend.
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Botham Jeans. Trayvon Martin. Philando Castile. Sandra Bland. Tamir Rice. Freddie Gray. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. As long as the list of names of black people dying at the hands of police continues to grow, I will continue to say Black Lives Matter because Duane Smith Design stands against racism and injustice.
Duane Smith Design is my business; it is a part of me, and I choose to operate it in a way that aligns with my core values. That may mean a business will see my stance and choose not to work with me. That’s okay; I don’t need or want to support those organizations.
I hope every business in America will do the same.