The recent string of murders of innocent black men and women is a heartbreaking, eye-opening reminder of the long history of systemic racism that has plagued our country for decades. As Atlantans, it has been hard to see so much fear and pain in the city that we love.
We acknowledge that we are three white men who started a brewery in an industry already dominated by white men. We recognize that our access to education, capital, and business connections made Monday Night Brewing possible, and it would have been much more difficult to start a brewery if the color of our skin had been black or brown. This is uncomfortable to reflect upon, and it’s not the way it should be, but it doesn’t make it less true.
As white business owners, we have wrestled with what our role should be in this moment. We know we must do something, and we cannot sit back and wait till the right words come to us or a perfect plan is handed to us. Reconciliation is messy and raw, but worth it. And we have to start with some concrete steps.
As a brewery intentionally embedded in the heart of Atlanta (including a facility in Atlanta’s Historic West End), we must do more. And we must also stay true to our stated company purpose of “deepening relationships over some of the best beer in the country.”
Our response to racial injustice will be built around a framework developed by Be the Bridge founder Latasha Morrison: Listen, Learn, Lament, Leverage. Our plans are still in the early stages, but here are a few things we pledge to do.
Please do not take this as an exhaustive list. We share our plans not to boast or let you know we’re good people (we are greatly flawed), but to humbly ask that you help hold us accountable.
- Listen: We will continue to have conversations with our black and brown employees and community partners (to the extent people want to share their thoughts and experiences with us) to better empathize and understand the ways that marginalized groups and minorities experience the world. We have been reading and listening to black voices both in and outside our company. We will also ask our team to help us round out the “Leverage” part of our response below.
- Learn: We are compiling and will soon share a list of anti-racist resources with our team and encourage all of our employees to engage with this issue. We are also investigating other materials to study as a Leadership Team, with an aim towards building a more thoughtful and inclusive culture.
- Lament: We will provide spaces for our team members to share their own experiences with racial injustice, both outside and inside the workplace. In the past, we have encountered instances of racism with a handful of our suppliers, taproom guests, and customers. And we know there are many instances that went unshared and unheard. It is important we acknowledge how broken our society is, and the injustices that exist within our industry and company. And it is important we stand alongside and grieve with our Black community.
- Leverage: The ways in which we use our leverage will largely be based on our “Listening” and “Learning,” but we know it will include:
- Building a team that looks more like the diverse city that we live in, while amplifying the voices of our team members who do not look like us. We do think we have made progress, given the starting place of our industry. But that is a low bar, and not the standard we hold ourselves to.
- Creating gathering spaces that are safe for all to develop relationships and have hard conversations.
- Developing a giving and support strategy for organizations fighting racial injustice in our communities, through monetary and in-kind donations. As a small first step, we have made a donation to PAWKids, a child enrichment non-profit on the Westside of Atlanta that is currently providing over 1,000 meals a month to vulnerable families. A portion of profits from our next Hop Hut beer will be donated to the same cause.
- Renewing our ongoing sponsorship for The Race Half Marathon, supporting black-owned businesses, neighborhoods, and charities.
- Using our company’s platform and voice to highlight black-owned businesses and black-run organizations doing good work in our city.
Last, know that we do not speak for our employees, though we have asked that our employees speak up (either through public comment or private conversation) if they have different views than us. Please continue to challenge us.
Jonathan on behalf of Jeff, Joel, and myself
Co-founders, Monday Night Brewing