The awareness of long term injustice toward Black people and the consciousness of racial equality is growing in society, and it encompasses us as individuals and as a company. This awareness has led to change within DeFeet that is never going to stop. Even the process of making a statement has led us in directions we have never traveled in our 28 years of business. We don’t know how much of a difference we make in the big picture, but we know our thoughts and actions add up. We are going to do more as a business and in the cycling community.
Writing and talking about injustice toward Black people and systemic racism forced us to begin to understand how much we didn’t know and ask what we have discounted for our entire lives. We realized that talking openly with each other about racial inequality and racial injustice toward Black people specifically was a way to move into an obstacle, not around it. We don’t want to go around this. We also don’t want to simply move through it. It’s so large we are going to move into it, try to get to know it and try to be part of creating positive change and equality. For now, that change means learning. We are also going to support more programs that grow this consciousness. DeFeet created an “Equality” sock, and donated 100% of the proceeds from this Sockfunding campaign to the Bahati Foundation, at www.bahatifoundation.org.
We’ve learned that even as kids, we weren’t all taught the same things about history. We realized how embedded certain beliefs became. We reobserve how influential previous generations are and how blindly following footsteps can be dangerous and unfair toward others. It began as an uncomfortable topic and is compelling us to tear down walls. DeFeet is openly deciding to build racial equality into the fabric of our brand. How true would that ring if it only meant putting photos of Black people and all races in social media and collateral materials? DeFeet is re-working its core values, the words we display on our factory walls to demonstrate what we stand for, to include racial equality. We learned that it doesn’t happen by itself, it didn’t exist to this point, and that we need to say it, do it and live it so that universal change can take root in the world.
The road to racial equality is a long climb. We are going to ride toward the summit no matter how long or how steep it gets. We’ll get off and walk our bikes if we have to. We’ll help those that need help. Never forget, this road also leads toward love. The road toward love is the last one we’ll all ride together, forever.
Shane Cooper & Team DeFeet