With the recent passing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless others we’re at a monumental moment of great civil unrest, that has pulled the curtains back on the deeply rooted racial inequities that have existed for Black Americans, but has also sparked the need for radical change and action. Some may say it is a revolution while others may say it is the new civil rights movement. Either way, the world is awakening in unity to racial injustice and everyone’s eyes are on the U.S. More than 50 states across the country have participated in Black Lives Matter protests and that’s not even including the numerous countries that have joined in as well.
Corage Dolls is a Minneapolis based Black-owned business and being in the heart of the city where we are less than 3 miles away from the site of George Floyd’s wrongful death, what happened hit hard. Personally, it felt like going through an emotional rollercoaster of frustration, exhaustion, hope, and determination. On May 26th, the day after George died, I felt pain even though I didn’t know who he was, but I felt the moments of gasping for air and attempting to latch onto something in order to save myself from the injustice.
I could not bear to watch the entire video and I doubt I ever will, but I knew at that moment I could not sit quiet and swallow my pain as another Black life risked dying in vain. On May 28th, I decided to visit the site where George died and was able to attend a vigil where Rev. Al Sharpton and Eric Garner’s mom provided a powerful speech of hope and determination. They shared a commitment to get justice for George and demand change in the police and justice system. Seeing Eric Garner’s mom speak with such vigor showed me that I had a role to play as well in ending this injustice and that I needed to cultivate courage despite the pain.
From there days started to progress between looting, riots, alarms going off, screaming, smells of smoke in the air, and helicopters hovering over my apartment at 3 AM. I couldn’t sleep straight for days, but what the media didn’t show often was the overwhelming massive peaceful protests that were going on and the rainbow coalition of different races, creeds, ages, and more showing up in the fight against racial injustice. In the midst of dealing with my own fluctuation and realization of emotions, I began to do more research to learn more about ways to help. I had the opportunity to volunteer at local food distributions, join in on webinars to discuss ideas for local policy change with individuals committed to justice as well as donate funds to Black-owned businesses that were impacted by the looting and COVID 19.
You may have heard the phrase fighting a pandemic within a pandemic and we must not forget that COVID 19 has and continues to disproportionately impact Black lives, communities, and businesses. The other pandemic being systemic racism has also existed, but the difference is that there’s no quick pill you can take to make it go away. Instead, you have to face it head-on with the long term determination, action, and commitment to truly change the systems that have been set up to block Black communities from equitable access to opportunity and success.
With that said, I set out to create an opportunity myself. An opportunity to help Black communities that have been impacted by both pandemics and provide resources where I could. After conducting countless hours of research and talking with partners, I’ve decided to launch an evergreen fundraiser with a shirt that reflects the bold action I want us all to take in the fight to ending injustice…Cultivate Courage.
Since it is a priority for our brand to work with Black women, I was fortunate to find an amazing young Black female designer who created the illustration for this awesome shirt. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go towards specific organizations addressing systemic issues in the Black community – food insecurity and racial injustice and the organizations are Feeding America and Until Freedom. I included the mockups of the final design on various shirts which will range from $20-$25. As I am still finalizing the production details the plan is to have the shirts ready and available for sale this month so please look out on our social channels and email for the latest details. This is just one of many ways that Corage Dolls is working towards elevating our communities and each other to thrive, but we cannot do it alone.
The time is now to demand change, take action, and hold each other accountable in bringing that to life. It will not always be swift, and it will at times be frustrating, but continue being determined, hopeful, and pushing for change. Cultivate courage in all you do even if it is makes you and others uncomfortable because it is the only way true change happens.
I hope you found this information helpful, share with others, and in the process support a Black-owned business. Do not forget to follow us on our social media profiles @CorageDolls on Facebook and Instagram and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for the latest information. From our crew to yours, please take care and stay safe.
Flora Ekpe-Idang, Founder/CEO Corage Dolls