Diversity Check-in: Beyond the 15% Pledge

Did you think I had stopped considering diversity and anti-racism just because it’s been months since you’ve seen a dedicated post? No no no, my friend. That’s not how this works. While I don’t always call it out, I do constantly double back and check that the content I consume and things I buy are representative of the world around me; and that world is a multicultural one.

In light of heightened attention aimed at the necessary support of Black-owned businesses, many shops have committed to dedicating 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned brands. It’s called the 15% pledge. But most of us don’t own a shop where we have the ability to determine the makeup of our inventory…so I suggest you take inventory of your life. Does your recent spending, binge-watching, volunteering, and reading represent the world and its diverse perspectives?

I suggest you take inventory of your life.

Nine months ago, I took stock on how I was doing. Was I supporting underrepresented communities as much as I thought I was? I analyzed my bookshelves and realized about 35% was devoted to diverse authors. Not terrible, but could be way better. In times of COVID, when we’re eating almost exclusively in our immediate neighborhood, about 85% of the restaurants we go to are Black- or Hispanic-owned. Overall, I was generally satisfied with how my spending was distributed. But I also recognize that it’s harder to do this in other cities. My spending shifted when I was home in Savannah/Hilton Head, for instance. In a situation like that, if you can’t support IRL, do so virtually. You can still support small biz and minority-owned biz with some good old fashioned online shopping.

I’ve written about diversity in the content you consume, diversity in your social feed, and a bit about diversity in the businesses you support…but just in case, here are some other brands I love and buy often but may not have covered in a dedicated post.

  • Trade Street Jam Co. The flavors are so unique! It’s great to spread them on toast, but because the flavors are layered, I think they work particularly well when used in recipes, like swirled into cookie batter, melted over ice cream, or as a glaze for meat. And when used in cocktails? Ohhhh baby.
  • @lovetrenna – If you’re in the NYC area, have Trenna do your nails because she is an *artiste*. People have stopped me in restaurants to compliment my nails after she’s done them. If you’re not local, order her Very Shameless Nails line so you can upgrade your claws with some luxury press ons.
  • BLK & Bold This coffee is GREAT. Whole bean coffee is never cheap, but at $12.99 for 12 oz this is definitely less expensive than competitors and truly tastes so good. My coffee snobbery hit all new levels once the pandemic hit and this is one brand I continue to reach for. PS – they sell this brand at Target!
  • Bad & BoozyDelivery-only restaurants have emerged during the pandemic, often focusing on a single product. This cocktail delivery service is hands-down my favorite. The drinks are delicious, the packaging/branding is on-point, and they offer private party services. Local to NYC, but I’m guessing/hoping you can find similar brands in other cities.
  • Cheese & Things – This one is also local to NYC (sorry!) but too good of an idea not to share. This small biz makes charcuterie boxes at several different price points. How perfect for a park day?!
  • Clare Paint I get really overwhelmed by too many choices but am good (empowered, even) when choosing from a curated selection. Clare makes that really easy. Instead of a million paint colors, they’ve identified the best blues/pinks/whites. There’s even a quiz where you can input the room and your vibe and it will narrow the options further. Before making the final decision, you can get swatches that are large and hella accurate.
  • Phenomenal Everyone knows about Meena Harris’ line now that her Aunt Kamala is Madame VP, but it’s worth repeating that this stuff is cute, has a great message, and is actually supporting worthy causes.
  • Carolina Pound Cake I’ve been following Darius as he cooks on TikTok and got really excited when he launched his pound cake business.
  • BriogeoI bought this shampoo for my beau for his bday back in January 2019 (weird gift, I know). I know virtually nothing about hair care, but I know this is a “clean” product, has won beauty awards, and it smells really good.
  • Roam Loud This fitness apparel line is cute, flattering, and reasonably priced.
  • Tiffany B Chanel I discovered Tiffany’s work because her canvases were all over the walls of a favorite local restaurant and am currently trying to pick a piece for our home. Also, this is a friendly reminder that local restaurants/coffee shops are a great place to find artwork. TikTok can be an unexpected place to find artists as well. That’s where I discovered Nika Leverett who creates fun abstract pieces and takes commissions for a reasonable price.
  • Hot ‘n SaucyThis brand of hot sauce has become my go-to. Don’t ask me to pick a favorite.
  • Mocktail Club I’m not pregnant but I have been planning some baby showers and love the idea of serving drinks that EVERYONE can enjoy.
  • Brandon Blackwood This designer earned a lot of great press with his ESR tote (with the slogan “End Systemic Racism”) but all of his bags are worth a peep. I loveeee the look of these bags and the accessible price point. And, of course, there’s Telfar, one of the biggest names in affordable luxury. (I squealed when I nabbed one of those bags.)
  • Candles – I love love love my candles. Some great brands are Lomar Farms, Harlem Candle Company, Blue Sage, and Frères Branchiaux.
Other Ways to Support
  • Read as many diverse authors as you can. I built this into my personal reading challenge this year and am tracking pretty well so far.
  • Listen to podcasts by BIPOC creators. Some faves to start with: Even The Rich, Ear Hustle, Why Won’t You Date Me?, and The Table Is Ours.
  • Find inspiration from diverse bloggers. If everyone you follow looks and cooks the same, your closet and kitchen will be boring. If you like their content, make sure you give their posts a double tap and comment – that engagement rate is how they secure partnerships and earn a living. (Note: The algorithm prioritizes engagement differently. Comments and shares are ranked higher than likes.)
  • Join an inclusive club. When you’re finding an outlet for your hobbies and passions, look at the members and management of organizations you belong to/seeking to join. Some of the most fruitful writing experiences I’ve had came out of sessions with Novella, a writing salon – and that’s specifically because the group of women assembled are incredibly diverse. When I’m working out, the trainers at 305 Fitness and Peloton are well rounded. I’ve also found a lovely and supportive community in The Lounge.
  • Still finding it hard to support POC-owned biz? Commit to donating $15 each month to a charity. Make it a game and choose someone new each month or set it up as a recurring payment to a single organization if you’re on the lazy/forgetful side. I promise you won’t miss $15.