I have started and re-started, written and re-written, this post more times than I can count. I never blog (in fact, this is my first). I’m generally someone who keeps my professional and my personal lives very separate. I’m also generally someone who is crippled by the fear of saying the wrong thing, especially when it comes to my business and my “brand voice”. So, I waited. I guess, I believed that, eventually, I’d find the right words or it would be less uncomfortable to participate in hard conversations about race and Blackness in America that, clearly, need to be addressed. I didn’t and it wasn’t.
So I will start with this: What happened to George Floyd last week, and what has happened to countless Black Americans for hundreds of years, is completely reprehensible. Systemic racism and white privilege are real. Black lives matter. Furthermore, until every individual and every brand actively stands against racism both ideologically and, most importantly, through their actions, nothing else matters.
The CHI Chic Weddings & Events team stands with the Black community, the countless, talented Black creatives that make up the special events industry, and, categorically, against racism in all its forms.
I am a mixed-race, woman of color. Even at 32, it feels uncomfortable, almost, disingenuous to say that. My father is white and my mother is half Chinese, half Puerto Rican. I did not know I was Puerto Rican until my mid-twenties because, to my parents, it seems Chinese was the more “model” or “acceptably white” minority. Even then, it was suggested that maybe I should still say that I’m half Chinese in certain contexts (though, this is another conversation, for another day).
This is all to say that my own cultural and racial identity is a hot mess. For all intents and purposes, I was raised as and have always passed as a white person. I know almost nothing of my Chinese heritage. I know even less of my Puerto Rican heritage. Even so, at the same time I have benefited from every white privilege, I’ve also unconsciously leaned on my minority heritage whenever it was uncomfortable or inconvenient to confront my own biases. “I couldn’t possibly be centering. Of course, I’m an ally. I am a person of color!”. Wrong.
And so, like many of us, the past week and a half has forced me to confront many painful realities and to be accountable for my privilege, inaction, and implicit biases. Personally and professionally, I regret that I was content to passively stand against racism and for diversity and inclusion, but that I have not followed through on practicing these core values with intention.
I’ve always said “all couples welcome” and, simply, waited for diverse opportunities and clients to come to me. I have always been proud to be a woman of color-owned and women-run business; over the years, I have had the privilege of leading a diverse team and, also, working with clients from a variety of cultures, races, religions, and sexualities. Even so, it is telling that my only Black clients have been part of multiracial couples and celebrations, where one partner was white. It is telling that, from my Instagram feed, you wouldn’t know the diverse clientele that I am proud to collaborate with. Clearly, I have not done enough.
I recognize that I have failed to extend myself and foster relationships with a diverse group of vendor partners, beyond my immediate, comfortable, and relatively homogenous professional universe. Moving forward, I am actively committing to expanding my networking footprint and, likewise, my list of talented creative partners to be as diverse as the couples and clients we are eager to serve. I will also be intentional about making sure that the diversity in our work is represented in all of our service offerings, marketing and sales materials, and on all of our social media channels.
We can do better. We must do better. We will do better.
Owner & Director of Planning, CHI Chic Weddings & Events LLC