Mack here, thanks in advance for reading this. We as Topshelf employees wanted to each take a turn to highlight what this movement means to us, and ways that we would encourage our friends and peers to participate in any way we can. We are a small staff, and a small company, but everything we do we try to do with love, care, and intention.
We all believe deeply in the Black Lives Matter movement, and in listening to black leadership. We are all people who have lived in multiple cities across the country and witnessed the atrocities of violence committed by the racist, militarized police against our black and brown neighbors. I’m from Richmond, VA, the once capital of the confederacy, and perpetual hotbed of racial violence. This violence takes place in the form of massive monuments to confederate generals strategically placed throughout the city, through white supremacists staging heavily armed demonstrations in public, through police brutality and killings of innocent people like Marcus David Peters, who was murdered by Richmond police in 2018 while experiencing a clear mental healthy crisis in which he was endangering no one but himself, through the economic inequality that had been forced onto the black community for decades, including the demolition of sections of thriving black neighborhoods, to the now rampant gentrification perpetuated by VCU, the city, and the real estate developers that leech culture and replace it with high rise apartments. I could continue this list for far too long.
I am a queer woman with a conservative, southern, racist, white family. My stepfather is retired DEA. If any of this sounds familiar I implore you to have uncomfortable, confrontational conversations with your family members. I’ve gone through so many periods of alienation from my family, but I’ve also seen incremental change in them through the years. My mother is recently open to universal health care, and has unprompted called out governor Ralph Northam for his racism, these are baby steps. It’s not easy to confront the ugly reality of this world, and the ways that you and those closest to you contribute to that reality, but it is necessary if anything is to change. This is the first step. Join any hands on contribution to your community that you can, talk to your neighbors, volunteer your time to a local cause, capitalist alienation is real and it is contributing to your nihilism, you can do something about that. Also read! Start an antiracist bookclub with your white friends, there are great threads going around with recommendations, but if you want any personal recs email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
I believe that Black lives matter, I believe in the full abolition of prisons and police, I believe in the reinvestment of funds from the militarized police force and from the military itself into community building. I believe in investing in education, in mental health care, in safe and comfortable housing for everyone, in the environment, in healthy food for our communities, in healthcare, and in the countless other initiatives that will make all of our lives better. I believe in the dissolution of surveillance and the state, and that we can and will take care of each other. I always come back to “another world is possible, if we fight for it”, and I urge you to fight for it.
Topshelf has allocated funds to donate on each of our behalf, and for this donation I chose to send money to the Covid Relief Fund organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation in Philadelphia, who stress two cornerstones of the struggle for liberation: "People Over Profit", and "We Take Care of Us".
I was born and raised in Richmond, VA, lived in Chicago, and now live in Philly. Here is a list of mutual aid funds that I would like to highlight, please donate if you can:
- Share Food Program: “The Share Food Program is a nonprofit organization serving a regional network of community organizations engaged in food distribution, education, and advocacy.” https://sharefoodprogram.org/
- Prevention Point: HIV Testing, Treatment, Medical Clinics, and a Syringe Service Program https://ppponline.org/
- Black Lives Matter Philly: http://www.blmphilly.com/donate
- The Party for Socialism and Liberation Covid Relief fund: https://www.gofundme.com/f/coronavirus-relief-supp...
- Mutual Aid Philadelphia: https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8oNSd8W8KH
- Chicago Community Bond Fund: “Inability to pay bond results in higher rates of conviction, longer sentences, loss of housing and jobs, separation of families, and lost custody of children. By paying bond, CCBF restores the presumption of innocence before trial and enables recipients to remain free while fighting their cases.” https://chicagobond.org/
- No Cop Academy: ”Join the effort to stop the construction of a $95 million dollar Cop Academy, and fund youth & communities instead.” https://nocopacademy.com/donate-now/
- Richmond Community Bail Fund: https://rvabailfund.org/
- Mutual Aid Disaster Relief: https://www.paypal.me/richmondmutualaid