Amidst the endless servings of lemons that was 2020, I made some damn good lemonade by co-founding a company called Reclaim Collaborative with two inspiring badass women—Manpreet Kalra of Art Of Citizenry, anti-racism educator, and Rachel Faller of tonlé, zero-waste fashion.

We’re a platform committed to dismantling systems of oppression across all aspects of the fashion and lifestyle ecosystem. And we believe collaboration is not only powerful, but the only way forward.

Introducing Reclaim Collaborative

Small companies are the ones making the most radical sustainability commitments. But they often struggle to compete with huge, venture-backed online retailers. And they’d rather use their ad spend compensating someone whose values align with their own. Queue Reclaim Collaborative!

Our values-aligned affiliate marketing enables brands to connect with independent content creators on sites like Twitter and Instagram. Their advertising budget goes directly to companies and individuals who share their values. That’s money that might otherwise go to huge advertising platforms—thereby contributing to a more community-based, decentralized, and more just economy.⁠

We want to use our collective voice and the power of the consumer’s dollar to set a new standard for all businesses to follow—one rooted in trust, inclusivity, justice, and respect.

There’s a lot of work to do, and it’s going to take time. But we’re going to make a difference. I can feel it.

Reclaim Black Friday – Goals

There’s been a collective awakening that’s been raw, painful, and long overdue. And in the wake of this came Reclaim Collaborative’s first of many campaigns, Reclaim Black Friday. We’re using our collective voices and platforms to facilitate change around the way we consume during the holiday season. Our goals?

#1 To center the voices of Black and Indigenous Leaders

in important conversations around the history of Thanksgiving and Black Friday and the extractive capitalism that has been molded from white supremacy.

#2 To redistribute wealth from white-owned brands and those who have historically benefited from privilege

to Indigenous and Black land-based initiatives, as well as Indigenous and Black creators and businesses.

Reclaim Collaborative: Woman with yellow paint on her hands holds up hands in front of face. Standing in front of yellow background.

Reclaim Black Friday – Rethinking Thanksgiving

2020 marked 400 years since the Mayflower landed and the Pilgrims encountered the Wampanoag Tribe—an event that was followed by violence and death, not the gentle coming together of cultures portrayed by the Thanksgiving myth.

The truth is, Thanksgiving is steeped in America’s history of genocide and theft from Indigenous people. The weekend of frenzied consumerism that follows further contributes to issues of racism and classism in this country.

Rather than offering markdowns or sales, we’re encouraging customers to support initiatives driven by communities whose ancestors were stolen from their lands, or who had their lands stolen from them. We also collaborate and highlight the work of Black and Indigenous content creators, brands, and organizations all weekend long, making space for the powerful voices that have been historically sidelined.

Read more about this heartbreaking history on tonlé’s site.

The Reclaim Collaborative Black Friday Pledge

2020 was the first year of our Reclaim Black Friday campaign, which invited companies to commit to five promises:

  1. NOT to run any markdowns, sales, or discounts from November 27th – 30th.
  2. Commit to redistribute a percentage of total sales from BF weekend to an appropriate initiative.
  3. Provide redistribution receipts to Reclaim Collaborative by December 14th.
  4. Operate sustainably & ethically in a significant way. Perfection is not required, but greenwashing or white saviorism will not be tolerated.
  5. Pay an up-front participation fee of $100 – $200 sliding scale. Your fee will go towards paying the consultants, content creators, and collaborators who are working to build this campaign.

Magic-Making Brands that Took the Reclaim Black Friday Pledge

Woman with paint brush covered in blue paint squats in front of painted blue canvas wearing clothes from tonle and GreyJays, two Reclaim Collaborative brands.

Dani—@AlsoKnownAs.Luna on IG—modeling tonlé and GreyJays

I Want to Challenge You to Change the Conversation

Dismantling white supremacy isn’t possible so long as white people continually ask Indigenous people to re-live generational trauma. So in lieu of engaging Indigenous people—particularly Wampanoag and Pequot—to educate white people about Thanksgiving, here are a set of questions for white people. These questions are not rhetorical. They’re a call to white people to self-examine.

  • Thanksgiving is a foundational myth to white American identity. The holiday is based on the genocide of Indigenous people. What does that tell you about white American identity?
  • Do you feel it is the responsibility of Indigenous people to educate white people about Thanksgiving? Why or why not?
  • Who were your people before you called yourselves white?
  • What’s the process by which you became white in the United States? What did you gain? What did you have to forfeit?
  • What is white culture?
  • Do you associate Indigenous people with Thanksgiving? Why or why not?
  • How has your family benefitted from the removal and genocide of Indigenous people? How do you continue to benefit?
  • How has your family benefitted from American chattel slavery and anti-Black racism? How do you continue to benefit?

Questions by Kathleen (Kat) Simonds Williams, an Indigenous (Narragansett and Pequot) and African-American writer born, raised and based in Providence, Rhode Island. She shares her insights on her blog Views from the Clearing.

Listen, Learn, & Grow – Educators & Resources

I’m still learning how to do this too…

I don’t have this all figured out, but I look forward to continuing to listen, learn and grow. I won’t and don’t always get it right, and damn if this isn’t unbelievably challenging work. But I’m here for it and I want to teach my son the truth.

Thanksgiving or Thanks-taking? (tonlé Podcast Episode)

Episode 09 of Art of Citizenry Podcast features the voices of 4 Indigenous and Black activists and educators: Charlie Amáyá Scott, Kai Ramey, Katie Pruett and Emma Robbins.

Together, they deconstruct America’s dark history of genocide, theft and trauma, while having an honest conversation around how they each navigate the problematic holiday of “Thanksgiving.”

Educational Resource List

It’s all about unlearning + learning

Making Reparations

These are Black & Indigenous land trusts we’re paying reparations too. Please take a moment to learn more about the important work they doing, amplify them and contribute.

  • DigDeep – “Human Rights Non-Profit ensuring every American has clean, running water forever.”
  • Amah Mutsun Land Trust – “Conserving and restoring indigenous culture and natural resources.”
  • Black Farmer Fund – “Creating a thriving, resilient, and equitable food system.”
  • Soul Fire Farm – “Afro-Indigenous centered community farm committed to uprooting racism and seeding sovereignty in the food system.”
  • Black Hives Matter –  “Bringing a loved and long-standing honey business under Black ownership.”

Black & Indigenous Brands To Shop the Holidays & Beyond

Reclaim Collaborative & Reclaim Black Friday

For more on the work we’re doing, follow @ReclaimCollaborative on IG.