It’s October 22, 2020. I log into Facebook like I do every morning and I check out all the craft beer groups. I usually lurk because I don’t see anything new or engaging. Raise your hand if you’re as tired of reading about everyone’s new IPA release as I am. Today was different. Its #thirstythursday and I see a 4 pack of beers with Cardi B’s likeness. Mouth wide open, sexualizing a pineapple chunk.
How do you not stop when you see that?
Please forgive my patriarchal attraction and temporary toxicity. I’m getting better by the beer. I promise.
At first glance, it seemed to be a dope can wrap and a trendy marketing concept. Then I took a closer look. I didn’t recognize the brewery. I kept digging and found another f***ing snake! A culture vulture if you will. No previous signs of supporting or engaging female, BIPOC, or even the Hip Hop community. There was nothing that appeared equitable or inclusive about this brewery. AT ALL.
We live in this country that was built on the back of black folk’s trauma. A country that stifled the progression of women, and rebranded the initially female dominated industry of brewing and sold it as a man’s world, chocked full of man laws.
Steal our books. Burn our libraries. Kill our griots. Cut us off from the flow of knowledge. Then wait 400+ years to sell it back. The moment it becomes unlawful to own us as personal property, people begin repacking our image into comical, palatable forms and selling it to their friends and neighbors WITHOUT CONSENT. Feels a whole lot like what some of my favorite musicians have been singing about for decades now.
I think the part that really got to me was when I realized that I’d seen this before. Actual Brewing. Melvin Brewing. Loose Rail Brewing. Buckeye Brewcraft. Same script. Different cast. There’s a longer list but that’s not what we are here for. In the last 5 years I’ve read about or watched several breweries fold under the pressure of the mistakes of their leadership. How has no one learned from anyone else’s mistakes? It makes me think that they just don’t care. The craft beer community is too small to say “I had no clue that happened”. Especially not on matters of racial, sexual, and cultural misconduct in 2020. Is there anyone out there leading the leaders? Who trains the f**king trainers? Craft beer founders need someone to follow. Doing the right thing in silence is not enough. It’s time we take away the excuse.
I want to be clear, I DO NOT WANT THESE BREWERIES TO CLOSE. I want them to be educated and reform the way they navigate within these spaces and to the demographics they have wronged. There are socially conscious agencies in existence that help those businesses that actively seek this change.
CraftedForAll.com is dedicated to helping prevent this very thing from happening. Dr. J Nikol Jackson-Beckam has been lecturing to craft breweries across the country for years and gives guidance on creating, operating and sustaining an equitable and inclusive work environment.
You can even find help on the Craft Brewers Association website. The national leader in craft beer trends and information is taking action to spearhead the effort. See for yourself.
My thoughts on this issue may place me in the minority within those that watch this industry in real time. I’m okay with that, I’m used to it. That doesn’t change the fact that with every craft brewery that closes, big beer takes a larger hold on the consumer base.
We are an industry full of colleagues and collaborators. We should build up our teammates. The largest opportunities for growth in craft beer rest in engaging women and BIPOC craft beverage consumers. Knowing that, it’d be wise to seek first to understand and then be understood. Get to know this new consumer. Learn their past. Only then can you make a positive impact on their future.
…IT’D BE WISE TO SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND AND THEN BE UNDERSTOOD
I could be naive in thinking that most offenders want to change or that these publicized mistakes are innocent. Can we possibly build a better world without burning the current one? Maybe that’s my colonial rewire speaking. I don’t have this all figured out. I’m not going to stop working towards it though. There will be days I feel like Snap Turner and days where I’m feeling like Michael Jackson. No matter which way I feel, I still want all of this to change for the better.
This is why we continually push the narrative of positive change at Crafted Culture Brewing, through our #BeertheChange efforts. It’s why we partner with Spires Social and support their #beerINspires initiatives. It’s why I personally work with the OCBA subcommittee for Equity and Inclusion. A better way of doing things exists. As an industry, we make better beer every day. Let’s put that same energy into being better people.