Noot, Racism & Racial Justice
by Darius Hogg
George Floyd. Murdered. A needless tragedy for him and his family. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Philando Castile. Sandra Bland. Freddie Gray. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. Trayvon Martin. All murdered. All Black Americans, predominantly male, like me. All of whom should be enjoying life still with their family and friends.
I know this story too well. As a black man living in the South, I’ve obviously experienced my share of racism. The difference in how I am treated, simply because of my skin color, is still very apparent. That was even true when I played college football and would go to other cities (on the coasts also!) to compete. It wasn’t just in the South where this discrimination occurred, which was saddening.
This needs to change for my two children as they embark into their journeys of life.
Everyone at Noot is outraged, sad, frustrated, and angry at the lack of progress towards justice for people of color. Companies, such as Noot, need to speak up as allies to those who seek justice and equality under the law.
Reality is that there is still dark stain on America. Racism is an ugly, lingering wound in America that has no place in our modern society.
As a nation and as individuals, we must do better. Businesses like ours can play an important role. We must put resources and energy toward helping end this never-ending cycle of systemic racism.
Noot is obviously not perfect. We are a small business that’s less than 3 years old, and have even fewer full-time employees. But we are growing and aim to have racial justice play a major role in our plans going forward.
In June 2020, we had just completed the first successful fundraising campaign for our chosen charity at the time, “Black Girls Code”. This amazing charity inspires and educates black girls about going into STEM fields, and is desperately needed.
We’ve also made mistakes.
In July 2020, we defended the use of political satire on our packaging. One segment of this packaging went viral, as an endorsement of President Trump, and was taken out of context. We do not support white supremacy in any form and we have discontinued the packaging. It was never, ever in support.
Many falsehoods were spread about our product and the company as it relates to our old supplier, racism and politics.
Regardless, we apologize for the insensitive way in which this criticism was handled within our Facebook Group/social media, and going forward we will be listening first, and responding only after real consideration.
We understand why this occurred, we take responsibility for our insensitive response, and have learned a lesson in humility. We want to publically reaffirm our stance for progressing racial justice. Not just in words, but action.
We don’t have all the answers. But we always aim to do better.
Going forward, Noot’s efforts will focus on two main areas – listening, and local empowerment.
Phase 1: Jul. 2020 – Sep. 2021
We believe our company has the power to drive change on a local level across the country on many issues relating to justice. In order to make progress for those who have been hurt by systemic racism, we need to listen first. As a black man, I have ideas; which I’m relating to our CEO and owners, but we all know that this is just the beginning. We will seek out the voices and the expertise of community leaders and social justice advocates to inform our plans for local empowerment as it relates to what they need.
Phase 2: Sep. 2021–
We love plants. We want to help communities of color continue to grow their green thumbs by assisting with education, backed up by monetary grants and product donations.
We want to focus on our area of expertise, which is horticulture. We will be listening to local leaders and residents to formulate a sustainable plan for specific local areas to build knowledge of gardening, and also a practical plan for producing organic food in inner city food deserts.
Our initial concepts to build upon are:
- Educational workshops on horticultural topics: basics of biology, sustainability, and food as medicine.
- Leadership roles for local residents.
- Community owned property for local food production.
- Leveraging company PR and commercial reach for fundraising efforts.
Our pledge as a company is to listen, learn and do. Noot is committed to making a difference in our communities and within our company by rallying the strength and reach of our employees, customers and business partners. Our company must play a visible and proactive role in creating the change that is desperately needed. More progress will be made and this page will be updated as it occurs.