by Kimmy Paluch · 08 Jul 2020 · 5 min read
A message to CEOs, business leaders, and white people in general. For the past five years, I have worked with a grassroots organization, I Grow Chicago, to heal the root causes of trauma and violence in Englewood, a neighborhood that is 95% Black and 100% low-income. As I've engaged with this work, it has become increasingly clear that the root causes of trauma and violence in our community boil down to racism and white supremacy.
My father's uncle invented the first fully mechanized sugarcane planter in Modeste, Louisiana, in 1964. He marketed the machine during the civil rights era, selling them for $6,000 and making a $1,000 profit. While he was eventually able to get a patent, he ended up losing about $11 million due to unauthorized copies of his machine. My father's family history is not in history books. It is pulled together from a line of oral history and newspaper clippings; stories that are untold, underappreciated, and buried deep beneath the whitewashed history learned from school books. And as a mixed-race woman, I feel deeply connected to these tragedies.
I was heading down a dead-end path to nowhere. One night in February of 2019, I came home from my posh bowling birthday bash to depleted funds and depleted ambition. Drained by the idea that after all these years of living on this earth, not only was I not happy, but I also didn't seem to be moving or growing in the direction I'd always envisioned for myself. Since I was always raised to make a difference and not put limitations on myself, why had I succumbed to my circumstances? Why was I leveraging my time with men for money? Was I only here on earth to be a sex fantasy prop that any man could pick up and put down at will?
From Facebook ad boycotts, alignment with #BlackLivesMatter, to ditching names like Aunt Jemima: social activism is the latest must-have for brands. But should you jump on the bandwagon? And how do you make the shift without getting labeled as inauthentic, especially if your brand has never talked about these issues before?
Walking into a huge beauty store similar to Sephora can be overwhelming as you confront rows and rows of bright products promising clear skin and high cheekbones. But as the light dims and you adjust, have you ever stopped to think about whether that lipstick or blush was created by a Black-owned beauty brand? With August being National Black Business Month, we want to further uplift Aurora James's work on the 15 Percent Pledge.
I am a proud Black business owner carrying a line of lip colors for the woman who wants to shine. At Vatarie Cosmetics you can find cruelty-free and vegan lip care products, including clear lip gloss and liquid matte lipsticks. The line is still under development, so there are more products in the making that you'll hear more about soon!
The education of the Black woman has always hit very close to home for me. Not solely because I am a Black woman myself but because of the first-hand experiences that have revealed to me its value. I can vividly remember the moment I realized that educational disadvantages for Black women were not merely a topic of conversation but real experiences.