[originally published June 8, 2020 on IG]

What does it mean to be a "socially responsible business?"⁣⁣⁣


I have been probing this question since last year, which is when I decided that I was going to focus on working with entrepreneurs who are committed to real social change.

When I was a journalist, being socially responsible meant going beyond mainstream narratives. Some of the most memorable stories I did were about everyday folks who had lived through what seemed like insurmountable obstacles-- serious illness, gun violence, and sexual violence.

Although I am no longer active in public service through journalism, the goal of social impact has never left my heart.

I believe it is our duty as individuals (business owner or not) to stand up for Black lives and racial justice, not just now, but always. The current moment presents a unique opportunity for change because so much of the world's attention is focused on it, but it should 𝘯𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 have taken the death of so many Black Americans 𝘢𝘯𝘥 a pandemic for collective outrage.

I particularly challenge business owners to go beyond the low-hanging fruit -- like symbolic hashtags, black squares -- and become active advocates for change.⁣⁣

How can we possibly accept our current system, which lets the people we are supposed to trust most get away with murder?

What does social responsibility mean to you?






[Card pictured is from a game called Disruptus. I chose this card because we're all players in this system and we have a choice about what we do next].

If anyone tries to shut you down by saying they "don't want to talk politics," remind them that fighting for human rights isn't politics.

(h/t Nathan Barry)

Dear friends, family, and allies,

This morning, I woke up startled by a tune in my head that I haven’t heard since my Santa Clara elementary school’s morning sing-alongs: 

We shall overcome 

We shall overcome

We shall overcome, some day

Oh, deep in my heart

I do believe, that

We shall overcome, some day... 

My kid brain couldn’t have registered what this song was about, but this morning, I didn’t need Google to tell me what these words of resistance meant.

The past 12 days have been some of the slowest on earth: Time seemed to stop when George Floyd was murdered in cold blood on May 25, and it has crept by since.

This slowing down of time, at least, is a good thing: It seems that white and non-BIPOCs are pausing to do real work to dismantle racist systems that were built on oppression and that far from ended with the last civil rights movement. Today, with a new wave of people willing to risk their individual comfort to stand for the rights of Black Americans, some activists are calling this is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for real progress.

As writer Leslie Dwight says, what if 2020 isn’t the year to “cancel” but a year “so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw -- that if finally forces us to grow?” 

I am fortunate to have had frank conversations with people of all backgrounds on issues of race, privilege, and oppression during my time at UCLA in the Intergroup Dialogue Program, but I am well-aware that the work must be ongoing and that I have failed to do enough. 

In addition to continuous self-education and the education of our immediate family and communities, here is what we can advocate for in this moment: 

  1. Demilitarizing the police.

  2. Abolishing qualified immunity.

  3. Demanding that the officers who killed Breonna Taylor are charged.

I suggest this ally resource guide or this living document which contains a wide swath of information including immediate action steps, literature, classroom materials, parenting guides, podcasts, and places to donate.

There is so much more to be done, from reforming education, housing, to criminal justice--- but please, don’t succumb to information paralysis. Let "some day" be today. Avni

Originally written on June 6, 2020