We said that things wouldn’t go “back to normal” after COVID-19, but when we used that phrase countless times over the course of the Spring, we were really referring to crowd control and public health management. At the present, it seems we’re taking the “new normal” in a different direction. Many Americans who have taken to the streets since May 26th see the opportunity to foster a more comprehensive and compassionate new normal.
Decibel Management, like many companies, took a moment to hop on social media to voice their solidarity on #BlackoutTuesday, but there is A LOT more that we can do as a company, and likely more your own company can do to support the Black Lives Matter movement in the long term. So, this week we’ll go over some simple but effective ways that Decibel is working to better ourselves and for you to consider as you plan your next event – including ways that it can be planned and executed in a manner that forwards the BLM cause. These certainly aren’t the only ways your next event can contribute, but they are at least a starting point to think about how you can contribute to a “new normal” that’s not just face masks and hand sanitizer, but reflects the ideals of equal justice and equal participation in our society.
Here are a few ideas on how to plan your next event around those ideals.
EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION
Let’s recognize that we’re talking about making significant change rooted in 400 years of slavery, disenfranchisement, and inequality. There are no quick fixes here. It’s going to take long-term societal commitments to right our ship. As in all things, education is key. Realize that you (and we) don’t have all the answers. But education starts with communication. We need to have some conversations that will be little bit uncomfortable. It’s important that those of us that are white work to understand our own privilege and how even actions that we believe to be benign can be destructive and contribute to the social inequality endemic to our country. Be humble, be contemplative, be a good listener and be empathetic.
There are a number of resources we’ve found to help get you started on this process. The National Museum of African American History & Culture has an excellent resource portal on this which you can find right here. In particular, we’d like to point you to the modules ‘Being Anti-racist’ and ‘Community Building.’ You can also visit the Black Lives Matter Resources page to learn more about anti-racist action.
CHOOSE AFRICAN-AMERICAN OWNED VENDORS & BUSINESSES
You can support Black Lives Matter by seeking out and patronizing African-American businesses, vendors, caterers, contractors and more. There were a number of resources and apps to do just this even before the May protests began, and now a bunch of new resources have been made available to make things even easier. Check out apps like eatOkra or IAmBlackBusiness for restaurants, caterers and other professional services for your next event. If you’re in Chicago, LA, or New York you can also use this great reference guide from TimeOut.
CHOOSE COMPANIES, VENDORS, AND EVENT VENUES WHO FOLLOW EQUAL EMPLOYLEMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION (EEOC) GUIDELINES
You would think that the Equal Employment Act insured that businesses can’t discriminate against potential employees based on gender, race, or age but there are actually a few loop holes that allow some businesses to operate outside of these guidelines. Confirm your event is run by companies and hosted by venues that have pledged to uphold and actually follow these anti-discriminatory guidelines.
PRIORITIZE CULTURAL INCLUSIVITY AT YOUR LIVE EVENTS
Are your events equally welcoming to all of your potential attendees? Going forward, consider forming a cultural inclusivity team just like the major events company ‘The Famous Group.’ By having a diverse dedicated team on hand to consult during the planning stages of your event, you can be confident that you’re reaching many publics in a respectful, thoughtful manner. If Starbucks had just taken the time to do this, maybe they wouldn’t have created their own PR disaster by banning employees from wearing Black Lives Matter swag. Cast a wide net and avoid moves like that.
DONATE A PERCENTAGE OF EVENT PROFITS/TICKET SALES
Here’s a pretty simple, straightforward way to make sure your event benefits the Black Lives Matter movement: Send a chunk of your profits off to organizations who desperately need it. We’ve selected a handful just to give you an idea of your options (and you can find more here), but don’t feel limited by our suggestions.
Consider finding social justice organizations in the host city of your next event to make a positive local impact. A great resource for that is Action Network, which hosts resources and contact info for local activist groups across the United States. Here’s their page for Washington D.C.
And here’s a few ideas of charities, relief funds and social justice organizations to get you started:
It’s important to note that while donating to these organizations are helpful, its likely not going to bring about the real change in society that needs to happen in the long-term. This isn’t a problem we can truly solve by sending money. And, let’s be honest, there will be future crises, natural disasters, and other causes which can quickly shift attention (and donations). So by all means, please donate, but recognize that donations are not what will help our society make significant, foundational strides.
Just to be clear, we have a long way to go here at Decibel, and we’re looking at ways we can be sure to be part of the solution a we grow. Of course it’s a good thing to take the time to voice your support for American families affected by police brutality and systemic racism on social media. But that is really step one of many in demonstrating your willingness to be an ally in the ongoing fight for racial justice and police reform.