We get together most nights—whether physically or digitally—to drink wine and talk. We make plans for the winery, rewrite work orders, and dream out loud. Our conversations have shifted these past weeks. We've been talking about racism. About how an unprofitable business with no reach, owned by three white guys, should respond to the killings of Black people and the systems in this country that allow such things to happen, year after year. We talk about our obligations to our friends and loved ones who are Black and People of Color. We talk about our fear of being performative in our responses in a time when it's more important than ever to be honest. We talk about the dumb things we've already said and done. We talk about how we have no damn idea what to do.
Some people are giving money and time to anti-racist organizations, promoting and signing petitions, or publicly supporting Black-owned businesses. Some are joining protests and educating themselves. We've done these things, but it feels insufficient. I don't mean to under value that work, but rather to say the more we talk about it, the more we realize we need to be a part of something lasting.
Fear, shame, and guilt are powerful motivators. They lead well-intentioned people into acting defensively and violently. They lead other well-intentioned people to take impermanent action or strike out at others whose efforts seem inadequate. They lead still others to stay out of the conversation altogether. We want to act out of respect, instead, and I'd like to have a neat little three point plan that lays out how we're going to participate, but I don't have one. We've been talking and talking, but we still have a lot to work through.
In the meantime there are many, many important voices in the wine industry who are speaking with authority and pragmatism that we don't have (like @zambianbwoy, @carltonmccoy, @zwanng, @zafawines, @_cabrenae, @juliaconey, @thecollectress, and @blackwineprofessionals). Adding them to our Instagram feed has broadened our perspective on what's going on and who is represented in or has access to wine at large. If you don't already hear from these people, consider adding their voices to your feed.
While we don't know the extent of what our actions will be, it seems more important than anything we can do as white guys, with whatever minuscule platform we have, to make the case that racism is not political and it isn't over. In some ways it's overt, but it's also hiding in plain sight almost everywhere we go. If this doesn't seem true, think about how saying Black Lives Matter is controversial rather than the true statement in need of no amendments or caveats that it is. As white people, in a white-dominated industry (well, we specifically are still on the outside), let's focus our energy on uplifting Black people and People of Color and recognizing that if that makes us feel like we're giving something up, it's because we are, and that's not a bad thing. It's humane.
There will come many opportunities in the present and future, as they have come in the past, for me to show my humanity, my respect, and my kindness in the face of racism. We all have that choice. It is my hope that when that time comes, we think not of ourselves, but of our sisters and brothers who are tired.