What’s up world?! It’s ya boy, The Beerded Brotha and it’s Juneteenth week and weekend coming up AKA Black folks’ “July 4th” celebrating the end of slavery. Ok you can Google more info yourself as I should not have to teach you about this but I digress.
Anyway, as this week moves on, although hella slow, it made me think about how breweries can step their support up for Black People in the Craft Beer Community. It doesn’t have to be big performative gestures but like my last blog post, keep it simple, stupid!
Breweries, I know you are familiar with collaboration whether it's the can art, contract brewing, or making a beer that fits the style of the other breweries. Take that energy to Black artists for art and promote the artist like you would the product and make sure the artist gets the credit and most importantly the compensation they deserve.
Work with Black influencers to create social media content and other media for you to share. They can bring in a new audience that may haven’t had beer but will be willing to try or they can bring other beer drinkers into your establishment. This will help to create the community and diversity you claim you pride your brewery on!
Most importantly, when you work with these people make sure to compensate them appropriately as well as give them the necessary respect and dedication you would with a non Black collaborator . They are not here for you to check off a box and be a trophy so you can get a pat on the back because you pretend to support as a marketing ploy. They deserve that much.
Set Your Employees Up for Success:
If you have Black employees in your brewery, make sure they feel supported in their work from customer and employee interactions to career advancements. Like I have mentioned before, they are not there to make you look like a good and inclusive business. Take time to listen to those employees and most of all see them if they are expressing a problem. Make sure to hold people accountable who aren’t creating a safe environment for that employee. If that means you lose a toxic customer then so be it. Trust me, you will gain more when your employee mentions how you stepped up and protected them.
Having diversity in your brewery doesn't mean just having Black employees only in the tap room. That means providing them with the same guidance, mentorship, and effort that would be provided to white employees to help them be successful. Have intention in your hiring of Black employees! Introduce the employees to important people in the local scene if they truly provide something that would be beneficial. It means giving them a chance to grow and expand their skill set to become successful in the field and letting them move on and continue to find success!
Get into the Community:
“Don't sub-tweet, at me”- Buddy ‘Black 2”
There are so many breweries that use Black culture in their product but no Black person has ever stepped foot, worked, or drank beer from their brewery. This has got to stop! From rap lyrics as beer names to remakes of album covers as can art, Black culture permeates the Craft Beer world but Black people don’t with less than 12% of Craft Beer being consumed by Black people and even less percentage of Breweries are Black Owned. Those numbers have to change!
These numbers change when breweries get into the community and market to the Black people within it. Go to black owned restaurants and bars and make your sales pitches to the owners and get them on board with carrying your products! Have beer tasting events at these establishments and let the customers sample your beers!
Go to predominantly black events like HBCU homecomings or festivals like Juneteenth festivals. This is a way you can be in the community in a more organic way. This is where Black creators can help! Don’t use Black culture for marketing glory!
Be an Ally:
“There is a difference between not being a racist, and engaging in anti-racism. They are two completely different things, and they are only barely related. Anti-racism means you are doing something to counteract the pernicious effects of racism.”
Being an ally is a verb in the fact that we have to actively participate and in the dismantling of the construct of white supremacy and privilege. White people, we are striving for equality and equity. We can’t achieve that if you stand idly when something problematic happens or you trying to be the “devil’s advocate” as there shouldn’t be an advocate for him with something that is so dangerous to a community.
What does that look like? It starts with learning and listening to Black people in their experiences and being able to empathize. Then it’s creating action and helping create environments that are safe. That’s holding people accountable when they are participating in racist and biased activity and not being scared to step up.
I challenge you to educate yourself and find ways you can get to work to break this construct. There are strides being made but we still have a ways to go!