July 21, 2020
In the aftermath of the brutal murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed, the focus has been on how the community rebuilds and how we address the long-standing systemic mistreatment of and racism against the Black community. Twin Cities Co-op Partners supports the Black Lives Matter movement, and believes that work needs to be done to dismantle a racist system that has led to repeated violence against the Black community.
At Twin Cities Co-op Partners, we are on a journey to become a more proactively anti-racist organization. Like many in the community, we are evaluating our actions and practices, and asking how we can continue to be better allies of our BIPOC community and challengers of the cultural and legal systems designed to perpetuate institutionalized racism. It’s clear there is much for us to learn and understand and we have more questions than answers. But we are starting from a place of listening and working together with our employees, owners, and community on this journey.
Our statement is the result of very deliberate thought and discussions by our board of directors and leadership team over the past year – and the conversations have become more frequent in the past two months. But at the end of the day it is just a statement, and we realize that we will be judged by our actions – not just our words.
Actions to date include:
- Continued partnership with YWCA to conduct mandatory training for all employees on microaggression and bias.
- Banning customers who have made racist remarks to our staff and other customers from shopping at our stores.
- Building a better defined and structured Diversity, Equity, Inclusion strategy with our board of directors to include steps for collaborating with organizations that serve diverse and/or underserved community members.
- We continue to invest (food and donations) in hunger relief efforts through our partners: Twin Cities Food Justice, Loaves & Fishes, First Nation Kitchen, Sister’s Camelot, Groveland Food Shelf, Joyce Food Shelf, Open Arms MN, The Sheridan Story, Second Harvest Heartland, and Minnesota Central Kitchen. Minnesota ranks near the bottom of states on many racial equity measures – household income for black families is less than half of that of white families, poverty rates for black households are quadruple, and as a result food insecurity, especially since COVID-19, has been a serious issue for our Black community.
- Collaborate with staff and management on approaches to actively fight explicit and implicit racism in our stores. We will have a facilitated conversation to kick this off.
- Hire a full-time Diversity, Equity, Inclusion coordinator to execute our strategy within our organization on hiring, training, employee relations, outreach and product sourcing.
- Establish recruiting practices and hiring goals so that our staff and board of directors better represents our beautiful, diverse community.
- Support and encourage all employees’ efforts to speak up and identify racist behaviors in a safe and respectful manner.
- Developing policies around purchasing that support BIPOC farmers and producers.
Through the on-going dialogue, we will continue to find more ways, with the help of our employees and community, to educate and train ourselves to help combat racism.
Our mission is to Build Community by Developing a Strong Local Food System. We have focused a lot on the what and how of that statement, but realize we have an opportunity to focus more on the for whom. How do we do build a community that is truly inclusive of all people and a strong local food system that supports all people? Our Values as an organization are Equitability, Sustainability, Cooperation, Community, and Accessibility. While these are ingrained in our thinking, we admittedly have taken for granted that we are fulfilling these consistently in our businesses. We have signs that say, “Everyone Welcome Every Day,” yet we have heard that not everyone feels as welcome as they should. We have work to do to ensure we are deliberate and intentional in living these values – especially in regard to racial equity – so the impact of the values is felt by all community members.
This is a critical time in our community and country. There is an opportunity to take the shock and pain we all felt at the senseless loss of another Black man at the hands of police and channel it toward meaningful change. We recognize the important role that our co-op plays in building a more just and equitable society. We take that responsibility seriously and know that our actions are important in these efforts. We stand in front of the ownership and the community acknowledging there are still many difficult conversations to be had and work to be done. We will continue to share our work and report on our measurable results along the way. Thank you to our employees, owners, and community for supporting the co-op for over four decades, and thanks for your continued support moving forward as work toward racial equity.
-TCCP Board of Directors, CEO and Leadership team