A Personal Message –  white privilege, our business and what should we do next

It’s Tuesday, June 2nd.

We pushed our new website live, marking the official launch of Saltwolf, one week ago on May 26th.

It was a momentous occasion for Lindy and I. We’ve been working on this business for more than a year and a half. We’re self-funded. Trying to build something from the ground up. And yet…

The day we officially launched our website was 77 days after the WHO declared the coronavirus a global pandemic.

And it was one day after police officers killed George Floyd in Minneapolis.

We are now one week into massive civil unrest over the unjust killing of Mr. Floyd. And while Mr. Floyd’s death is singularly tragic, the greater tragedy is that it was merely one amongst an unimaginably large number of our fellow black citizens who have been killed by police. I hope we are all heartbroken. I hope we are all shaken. I hope this has (finally) stopped all of us in our tracks.

So how can I wake up and go to work trying to sell luxury furniture to (relatively speaking) wealthy customers? It seems so entirely and utterly unimportant right now.

Further, how can I do so while also acknowledging and grappling with the plain fact that my position in life, and our ability to be launching this business, is based heavily on the white privilege that has benefited me and propelled me to this point? I’m a straight, white, married man from, relatively, an upper-class family now working on launching a luxury home goods company.

But yet, it also strikes me that, perhaps, there is no other route but forward. Thoughtfully, lovingly, openly, aware of my flaws and position in life, with no ill intent, but aware of mistakes I’ve made and will continue to make, we can’t go back. We, as a country, can’t go back.

In the depths of my current heartbreak, knowing full well that the pain I feel is a metaphoric paper cut next to the depth of anguish brought by 400+ years of racial oppression, which continues to this day for African Americans across our country, what do we do next?

My list, imperfect and flawed as it almost certainly is, includes:

– Step one, before anything else: admit and accept that I am a beneficiary of our system which oppresses others. And my inaction to change that system is implicitly racist.

– Wake up and move forward. Wake up believing that ahead is where solutions lie. Ahead there has to be a better place. More loving leaders. More space for dialogue. More opportunities to help make space for those who’ve been held down.

– Stop being passive. Stop allowing the news of yet another of my fellow citizens killed by police to sadden me, but leave my actions unchanged. It must spur action: talking with my children, voting, partnerships, etc.

– Educate myself. Read books. Attend community sessions held at our church on how to become actively anti-racist.

– And professionally reach out to those who don’ t look, sound, or act like me. Actively pursuit doing business with, partnerships with, collections, and collaborations with members of our interior design community from across the full spectrum of people in our extraordinary country.

None of what I write here will change anything in the short term. We’ve spent centuries getting to this place, and, sadly, it will take time to get us out. But I think trying is the thing. One person at a time, trying their best to play a part in a change, is all we can ask. It’s small, and it feels inconsequential, it feels like whispering into a hurricane. But it is what we can do. And it’s what I commit to doing.

In the meantime, while in that act of working to become a better person and a better citizen, I’m going to wake up and keep working to make Saltwolf a success. We all need a place to call home. And we all, no matter how frivolous it may seem at times, need a bit beauty in our lives.

With love, humility, sadness, and hope,

Jordan

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4 thoughts on “A Personal Message –  white privilege, our business and what should we do next

  • Hello, Jordan and Lindy – Congratulations on your launch! And Jordan, thank you for sharing your thoughts here. The world needs those who believe in the power of beauty, the meaning of home, and the impact of good design to “whisper louder” for equality on all levels, and it sounds as if you are up to the task!
    You’re on to a good thing – your designer compatriots up late at night sourcing and just wanting to hit “purchase” are going to be psyched! Wishing you both the best in your endeavors! (I sent a connection request with Lindy on LinkedIn this am, too).

      Reply
    • Tiffany – thank you for your kind reply. And indeed, quality must be demanded in the streets. But in the long term, change must come through respect, equality, and partnership being enacted at work, with clients, with partners, et al. As for Saltwolf, we hope to be as helpful as possible to designers, day and night. So thanks for your vote of confidence! – Jordan

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