Greenlight Bookstore Public Apology and Statement of Purpose Regarding Anti-Racism

July 8, 2020

In recent months, we at Greenlight Bookstore have heard feedback about negative experiences of Black customers and employees in our stores.  We have been listening, and we want to take this opportunity to sincerely apologize for the hurt we have caused, as well as acknowledge the broader, systemic issues these incidents reveal within our company. While Greenlight Bookstore has sought to create welcoming spaces within the historically Black neighborhoods where our stores exist, and to highlight Black authors and other traditionally marginalized voices in our curation and programming, we have clearly fallen short of being actively anti-racist in ways we need to address.

We apologize for the ways in which we have fostered an unwelcoming environment for Black customers and employees who have been disregarded and disrespected. As our company has grown and our policies and procedures have developed, we have not been intentional in creating systems that actively oppose anti-Blackness, bias, profiling, and other forms of racism. We take responsibility for what happens in our stores—both on and off our sales floors—and we are committed to doing the work to improve how we treat our employees and customers. 

We are making long-overdue spaces within our organization to actively discuss and implement the work we must do as individuals and as a business to be truly anti-racist. We are working to identify and correct the aspects of our store culture that have unfairly and unkindly affected Black people within our community. 

We also acknowledge that company statements like this don't mean anything without action, accountability, and follow-through. To that end, we are making changes to our policies, procedures, and the ways in which we audit our practices to prioritize the creation of safe, anti-racist environments for our communities. There will be immediately corrective changes, as well as long-term plans, to focus on doing more and better for our Black communities. Here is what we're starting with:


Policy Updates: We are rewriting our policies and training regarding customer interactions, removing poorly-developed directives to staff which have led to racial profiling. We will also thoroughly revise our Employee Handbook to include explicit policies against racial bias.

Anti-Bias Training: Our staff will participate in mandatory and formal anti-bias training before the end of this year, and we will incorporate it into our ongoing training for new and existing employees.

Hiring: We will do a full review of our hiring and review practices and implement changes to decrease racial bias and increase diversity in hiring and management. This includes auditing the way we recruit, screen, shortlist, interview, and promote candidates, and ensuring these processes are not discounting or hostile to Black prospective and current employees.

Neighborhood Context: We will better educate employees about the neighborhoods and communities that our stores exist within and the effect gentrification has had on Black people in these neighborhoods, and make it a policy to engage in conversations about gentrification with our neighbors non-defensively. 

Feedback and Response: We will put safe, actionable structures in place for employee feedback that are consistent, non-threatening, and encourage continuously addressing instances of racism and prejudice that employees either experience or witness. We will respond more quickly to staff or management misconduct, both customer facing and peer-to-peer, which disproportionately leads to unfair and harmful treatment of Black people if ignored. 

 

We will hold ourselves accountable for these pledges. We are also open to feedback and welcome community engagement. If you would like to get in touch with us specifically about these issues, you can reach us at jessicaandrebecca@greenlightbookstore.com. We will read every message. We commit as owners and managers to being more present in our business, to be aware of and address issues as they develop, and to respond as quickly and thoroughly as we are able. We pledge to grow and prove to be a better place and better people going forward. 

Signed as of July 8, 2020:

Rebecca Fitting, Co-Owner
Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo, Co-Owner
and the Greenlight Managerial Staff

 

Related: Greenlight's statement in support of Black Lives Matter (June 3, 2020)