Question. Act. Evolve.
We have had time to think, listen, and watch—which, in and of itself, is an unearned luxury. The easy approach is to say little or nothing, and claim quiet solidarity—or even wrap ourselves in the role of a backseat listener.
This year has been extraordinary in myriad ways. Burdened by pandemic and incalculable leadership ineptitude, sparked by the callous murder of George Floyd and amplified by global protest, the momentum of long-overdue change is energized and underway.
The “status quo,” the “normal,” “and the “usual” are being swept away by waves of engaged and rightfully enraged protests. The “normal” cannot be a destination for any longer.
The path ahead requires that we, as white Americans, must admit that we benefit from an intentionally broken system; to expect people of color to fix a system that has always been fixed against them is naive and re-brutalizing. It is imperative that we finally hear the unheard, admit our ignorance, and contribute to the momentum of conscionable change (even without knowing for certain how to best do so), because silence is complacence. We all must not only reflect but act.
Question. Act. Evolve.
The American system’s inherent systematic racism—from governance and education to policing and imprisonment—pervades and poisons generations, while sustaining and maintaining power by decree, by deed, and by passivity and inaction. It’s not a bug; it’s a feature. It was a cornerstone of the founding of this country. We benefit from this, whether or not we asked for it, so we must admit it and recognize it.
We must acknowledge our layers of privilege: our skin color, our landscape, our remoteness. Far removed from the tear gas and rubber baton rounds, naturally separated from pandemic crowds, we here in northern Vermont have a richness of space and distance not afforded most people, especially people of color. Without this basic confession, there is no way forward. We remain, in large part, sheltered from the life-threatening consequences of this country’s centuries-old institutional hate; meanwhile, people of color are, at best, offered symbolic participation; more often held beneath the waves of progress entirely; and all too regularly, murdered by officers of the state.
As has been said in recent days, “matter is the minimum.” Black lives matter. Black lives are worthy, beloved, and beautiful. If equality feels to you like oppression, think hard why that’s so… and consider your own privilege.
We have watched from afar as overwhelmingly peaceful rallies against police brutality have been met time and again with escalating brutality and unconscionable barbarism from militarized, ill-trained, and overzealous police officers—all too many of whom have active affiliations with white supremacy hate groups. While incidents of crowd violence and property damage are readily available from early rallies, it’s clear that most recent instigation began with a badge, behind which qualified immunity shields offenders any consequences for unfit, inhumane behavior—a criminal clause leveraged by police unions who don’t advocate for wages and workplace safety but member elevation above the law. Assault, murder, and complete inhumanity are on display in cities across this country under the banner of law and order.
Know this: debate and conversation are essential to progress, but rest assured, the Devil needs no advocate these days. Feel no compunction to act in his stead. He’s enlisted an army of advocates, legislators, and lawyers (armchair and bar-certified) to problematize, pacify, and complicate with enchanting hypotheticals towards the status quo ends.
These tumultuous times bolster our belief in and commitment to justice—both lived and done. As many of you know, a guiding text for the people behind this business has been—and will continue to be—Henry David Thoreau’s “Resistance to Civil Government,” or better known as “Civil Disobedience.” From a distance of nearly 175 years, its prescience and applicability startles through so many passages:
When a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves… I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. What makes this duty the more urgent is that fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army.
Has the treatment of citizens by their government changed so little in the last 200 years? Have we learned so little in such a long time? Yes. Make this be the time for reform, then.
Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.
It has been our goal to support education, equity, and justice, almost exclusively within our local community. However, these are times for greater reach and broader scope.
Next week, we will release Civil Disobedience 2020, a blended barrel-aged beer, and all proceeds (100%) from the sale of this singular edition will go to organizations that directly support the efforts of those on the front lines of change, battling racism and tyranny despite the risks and danger. This is our brewery’s first step of support while we listen, learn, and work towards real progress.
All funds from the sale of Civil Disobedience 2020 will be divided equally and donated through the entirety of the release to the following organizations:
- The NAACP Legal Defense Fund: www.naacpldf.org
- The Innocence Project: www.innocenceproject.org
- Know Your Rights Camp: www.knowyourrightscamp.com
For more resources to help and donate independently, which we encourage you to do, please visit this outstanding resource page assembled by AIGA:AIGA BLM Resources
Solidarity without action is posturing and insincere performance. Continue to speak out, demand answers, and decry the unjust institutions and people who lead them.
Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?