As a brewery owned and operated by white people, whatever we have to say on the topic of Black Lives Matter did not seem important enough or did not seem to hold the same impact as the voices of black people. As we have been listening and thinking about the events unfolding around the country and the world over the past weeks we have learned that we cannot be silent anymore. But what needs to be said cannot be said in a post on social media.
We are embarrassed that it has taken us nearly 40 years to reach this level of understanding. And we are ashamed that so many black people had to be murdered by police for us to get it. And we are nowhere close, at this point, to understanding it all. We felt that by simply being not racist and being welcoming and kind to everyone and teaching our children to be the same was the correct path.
We now realize that we must be anti-racist.
We both grew up in a life of privilege. Not economically, our parents were able to make ends meet, but we always had food on the table and a roof over our head. Our privilege was our whiteness. Paul did so many dumb things growing up in rural Connecticut, but they mainly revolved around driving fast and acquiring road signs. They were done for the thrill of getting away with it or maybe getting caught. Black teenagers do not have the privilege to do dumb things. If they are caught they will most certainly be arrested, probably injured, maybe killed. The amount of stress that a black person lives with, and sleeps with, every day is exhausting. Simply for being black and existing in a country where the laws are written against you.
We are not doctors. We are brewery owners. But George Floyd’s autopsy listed underlying heart issues as contributing to his death. And heart disease is a major health issue in the black community. You know what one of the main causes of heart disease is? Stress. People of color, specifically black people, are stressed every day by simply existing in their beautiful human skin. Have a job that is stressing you out, find a new one. Kids driving you crazy, go for a run. Having a tough week, have a couple of beers and get a good night’s sleep. Living while black, well, sorry, the laws in the country are written to make sure you don’t get a leg up.
For the black members of our beloved community that have been scared and stressed your entire lives, we are sorry. For staying silent too long and not saying enough when we do speak, we are sorry. For not listening or hearing you for 40 years, we are sorry. And for the members of our community that do not understand or are not willing to learn or listen, we are sorry.
Black people are tired. So tired. And we are done sitting too idly by. We are listening and more importantly, we are ACTING.
What have we done so far?
- $1/4pk of our American Table Beer will be donated to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. And the other three Beverly breweries are making similar donations. That felt like the right thing to do at the time. We had about 250 4-packs to sell, so that would have been $250 if we sold out and our family was going to match that. However, we’ve decided to uncouple the sales and the donation. We are simply going to donate $500 from the business and match that from our family for a total of $1000.
- Our family has donated to the Mass Bail Fund
- We have bought items from black-owned businesses both locally and nationally
- We will be donating to politicians who can make a difference in the lives and laws regarding black communities.
But, we are not done. We will continue to listen and act because that is the only way that we will truly see the changes the black community deserves.
- We have reached out to our state representative, Jerry Parisella, and asked that he support any legislation that comes forward that would benefit black people and begin to level the playing field of these two Americas.
- Locally we have city councilors that are focused on human rights, namely Estelle Rand, Julie Flowers and Stacey Ames. We are proud to call these women customers and friends.
- There is the Beverly Human Rights Committee as well and we will be reaching out to them to see how we can be more involved to affect change.
- We are asking our local city officials to make sure that the rules and practices of our police department and our city are fair, equitable and just for all.
The time to act was decades ago but it must be done now.
- We have signed on to brew the Black Is Beautiful beer. If you have not heard of this project, it was started by Weathered Souls Brewery in San Antonio, TX. One of the brewery owners (and brewer) is black and developed the recipe and designed a label. The project is simple. Sign up, brew the beer, add or subtract whatever you like, use the label to package it, sell it and donate all the proceeds. We asked our fellow Beverly brewers to join us in this effort and they have agreed. We are all planning an August release of this 8-10% stout. State 64 will be packaging the beer and donating $750 from the efforts of Beverly breweries to NAACP Legal Defense Fund. As for our donation, we are going to wait and see what the best use of our money is at that time. Back of the napkin math puts our donation somewhere around $2000.
It is what we can do, but it is not enough.
- We have joined the Craft Beer For All community. This community was started by Dr. J, a black woman who holds a Ph.D in Communication and Cultural Studies. She is also the first Diversity Ambassador for the Brewers Association. We saw an opportunity to support a black woman, gain information and knowledge that would help make our business more inclusive and pay her for that knowledge.
We have always prided ourselves on making our taproom inclusive but it is a continuous process that needs to change and grow. It is no longer enough to just be nice to people, which is a good start and is something we will continue. We need to learn how to actively make our space more inclusive, always. We will continue to listen and to learn, and we will likely make some mistakes along the way.
To our dear customers, we ask that you join us in ACTING. It is not enough to say Black Lives Matter, we all must live it in our daily lives. Spend your money with black-owned businesses, give your money to support black lives, speak to your family and friends about what you are doing and why. This is work that must be done. It is time to be the change we want to see in the world.
Paul & Christen Gentile