POETRY BY BLACK AUTHORS EVERYONE SHOULD READ
To Our Community,
AMENDI is a new, small company founded by three white people: two Swedish and one American.
First, we need to acknowledge that because we are white our worldview and experiences, our lives in general, were shaped differently than Black and Brown people in America and elsewhere in the world. We have not had to experience the effects of harmful discrimination or racialized oppression. This has been our privilege.
We also acknowledge that operating inside the fashion industry, or operating in almost any global business structure at all, implies at least an association with racially biased systems that have exploited and worked ignorant of, and sometimes blatantly against, people of cultural and/or racially different make-ups than our own. We acknowledge this has happened for centuries.
This is an immeasurable historical tragedy.
The foundation of AMENDI is transparency. The reason transparency is important is because it enables accountability. To be held accountable is to accept and embrace the truth, even if it implicates yourself in wrongdoing. This is the only way to take any meaningful action towards change. It is essential for the fashion industry, an industry we love but are complicit in, to admit that it was built, and in many ways still operates, at the expense of other human beings. Transparency cannot just mean sharing our own supply chains and then seeking sustainable solutions, it must also mean acknowledging and actively altering racially biased systems that oppress human beings. It means actively altering how we perceive, and interact with, our racially diverse global community. It’s our human duty to dismantle and reinvent those systems for the good of everyone.
We are just getting started as a business. We don’t have a huge platform. And like other small businesses right now we are not in a great position to help financially. However, we can get to work in different ways.
There is a flood of great information surrounding these issues. You can check out our recent Instagram post for a reading list.
For a free education resource about the topics in our message above visit the Slow Factory.
For a recent amazing article into how racial systems affect climate change read marine biologist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson amazing new article in the Washington Post here.
For good article on environmental racism click here.
We encourage everyone to seek out their local representatives and VOTE for the politicians who support policies to reduce police violence and direct resources towards oppressed communities.
As a brand we publicly pledge to implement the anti-racist methodologies as laid out in Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s book “How To Be an Antiracist.” As we grow, we will integrate the anti-racist mindset directly into our business methods and our brand culture.
With Perseverance and Love,
In times of high emotion and evolution, we turn to poetry for guidance. Here is a small sample of poems by Black writers that have guided and inspired us.
1. “We Real Cool” – Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas in 1917. Her poetry revolved a lot around personal struggles and celebrations of her own local community. She was the first Black person to receive the Pulitzer Prize in 1950. Watch a great interview with Gwendolyn Brooks by clicking here.
2. “Dinosaurs in The Hood” by Danez Smith
Danez Smith is a Black, queer, non-binary poet and performer from St. Paul, Minnesota. He’s won various awards for his work. You can watch an amazing performance of this poem by Danez here.
3. “HARLEM/ a dream deferred” BY Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri in 1902. He was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance and became indispensable influence on the civil rights movement and modern American literature.
4. “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” by Claudia Rankine
Before Claudia Rankine’s “CITIZEN” became the textual lodestar for the Black Lives Matter Movement in 2014, she wrote “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely:” a lyrical series of meditations and rumination on the American condition post 9/11. She has won various awards, written many essays and plays, and is a central figure in current literary landscape.
5. “Prayer” by Jean Toomer
Jean Toomer was born in 1894 and was the grandson of Pinckney Benton Steward Pinchback, a Union Soldier who became first African American governor. Toomer, who was bi-racial, attended both all white and black schools and resisted being identified as white or black, instead being preferred to be called simply “an American.” As a school principal in Georgia in 1923 he wrote a modernist masterpiece “Cane” of which the poem Prayer is featured.
6. “Zong!” by M. NourbeSe Philips
M. NourbeSe Philip was born in the Caribbean and is an award winning poet, novelist, and playwright. “Zong!” is a performative text based on the Zong Massacre of 1781, which was the drowning of some 130 slaves who were thrown from a British slave trading ship, so that the captain could collect insurance. This was common practice at the time.
7. “Snake Eyes” by Amiri Baraka
Amiri Baraka was born Everett Leroi Jones in 1934. After the assassination of Malcom X, Baraka changed his life to focus on his art, and along with it, his name. He was no stranger to controversy, and was accused of accused of advocating of violence, and expressing misogyny and homophobia. But he is still considered an essential author of the Black American experience.
8. “American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassins [When James Baldwin & Audre Lorde each lend]” by Terrence Hayes
Terrence Hayes was born in Columbia, South Carolina in 1971. He has written eight critically acclaimed books of poetry. Cornelius Eady said about Hayes work” First you’ll marvel at his skill, his near-perfect pitch, his disarming humor, his brilliant turns of phrase. Then you’ll notice the grace, the tenderness the unblinking truth-telling just beneath his lines, the open and generous way he takes in our world.
He won the National Book Award in Poetry in 2010 and currently serves as Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and is a professor at NYU in New York City. Check out a live reading by Hayes here.
9. “Hood Politics” Kendrick Lamar Duckworth*
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth is an American rapper, poet, and performer. There is small controversy in the literary world if rap is actual poetry. But it has become increasingly obvious and agreed upon that rap is a valid form of poetry, and should be regarded and celebrated as such. Lamar’s third studio album “To Pimp A Butterfly,” where “Hood Politics” is featured, received broad critical acclaim and is considered one of the best albums of the 2010’s.
10. “On Virtue” by Phillis Wheatley
A seven-year-old Black girl was seized from West Africa in 1781 at the age of seven years old. She was sold to Susanna and John Wheatley of Boston “for a trifle.” (poetryfoundation.org). They named her Phillis. The Wheatley’s wanted “a domestic,” and though not excusing Phillis from her slave duties, taught her to read and write English. Phillis immersed herself in geology, astronomy, the Bible, Greek literature, and began to write poetry that rivaled the most well-known white male poets of the day. She was instrumental in igniting the fledgling anti-slavery movement of the 18th century. Read more about Phillis Wheatley here.
11. “Who Said It Was Simple” by Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde was born in New York City in 1934 to Caribbean immigrant parents. She self-described as a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” She dedicated her artistic life to activism against injustice, racism, classicism, heterosexism, and homophobia. Her poetry and prose are often recited and referred to as necessary doctrine in the fight for black and gay liberation. You can watch a video portrat of Audre Lorde here.