Rest in Power George Floyd

June 4, 2020
Kelsey Taylor

On November 1st, 1859, much to the chagrin of his socially respectable friends, Henry David Thoreau stood up to deliver a defense of John Brown, a controversial abolitionist on trial for treason. A month earlier, Brown had led a failed raid on Harper’s Ferry, a federal armory in Virginia. He had been attempting to arm slaves with weapons and inspire a nationwide insurrection for their freedom. Though Frederick Douglass, the famous black abolitionist, was not supportive of the raid, a letter from Douglass was found in Brown’s pocket; it was enough evidence to issue a warrant for Douglass’s arrest. He was forced to flee to Canada, and the “Fraternity Course” lectures were left without their speaker. Thoreau, a white abolitionist, was asked to speak in his stead.

In front of nearly 2500 people at Boston’s Tremont Temple, Thoreau began his plea with “the reason why Frederick Douglass is not here, is the reason why I am.” It was an acknowledgment of what we’re still fighting today – when black voices and bodies are unfairly oppressed, the responsibility to speak out lies with those who have the privilege to do so freely.

During his oration, Thoreau said, “when a government puts forth its strength on the side of injustice, as ours to maintain slavery and kill the liberators of the slave, it reveals itself a merely brute force, or worse, a demoniacal force.”

It’s been over 160 years. When we as a country refuse to make changes that liberate people of color from the shackles of systemic racism, are we meaningfully different from our 1850s brethren?

Thoreau went on in his defense of John Brown, “There sits a tyrant holding fettered four millions of slaves. Here comes their heroic liberator. If he falls, will he not still live?” John Brown was executed a month later, but Thoreau was right. His death precipitated the start of the American Civil War.

John Brown hoped that his actions would ignite a nationwide uprising against slavery. He knew his tactics were controversial and risky. George Floyd, on the other hand, wasn’t trying to incite violence or lead an armed rebellion. He was just another black man with a family, complying with the police, trying to breathe. Nothing we do now will bring him back, it’s already too late. We can only honor him now.

Walden is owned by people who will never personally know the pain felt by the black community, but we can strive to be like Thoreau, the man who inspired our name. We can work to dismantle prohibition and end the drug war that has disproportionately impacted people of color. We can fight for serious police reform. We can use our platforms to lift up and amplify the voices of people of color that have been silenced for far too long. And we can start talking seriously about the racial wealth gap and have the moral courage to talk about… gulp, here it goes… reparations. Yeah, I said it. Reparations.

In honor of George Floyd, and Thoreau, and all of the people of color whose voices have been silenced and whose bodies have been beaten, Walden stands with you. We are not free until we are all free. We won’t rest until we can all breathe.

BLACK LIVES MATTER. Rest in Power, George Floyd.

2 Comments. Leave new

How diverse is Walden in its employment?

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Hi Sarah! Thanks for the question. We strongly believe that diversity in business, even small ones like ours, leads to innovation and resilience within an organization.

While I wish that I could answer you succinctly with data and pie charts, the reality is that we are still a small business with fewer than 50 employees. We do not yet have a data collection system in place to succinctly present you with this data (although that sounds like it might be a good thing to implement as we grow). While I can’t give you a hard data breakdown of our “diversity numbers” by gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, nationality, or other metrics, what I can do is give you anecdotal information and invite you to email us at info@waldencannabis.com if you have ideas as to how we can monitor and improve from here.

When we first started Walden out in Eastern Washington, we knew that if we wanted to learn the most that we could about farming, it would be important for us to have managers who spoke Spanish. So we made it a point to have a bilingual HR director, and hired bilingual team members who we promoted to managers. The Okanogan Valley in particular also has a large Native population, and as such, we have hired many Native contractors and employees. As we have grown, we have opened up more locations on the Western side of the state. In all of our locations, we have stayed committed to hiring and nurturing employees who start from the bottom. As a result, many of our crew have been with us for years and have risen through the ranks. We believe these efforts are why, even though we are a small organization, we have managers of different ages, races, ethnicities and genders.

Furthermore, we have made it a point not just to strive for diversity of race, gender, and sexual identity, but also of background. We have people who have served time for marijuana convictions who have become critical members of our management team. We have hired people who lack housing, veterans, people trying to get back on their feet after overcoming crippling opioid addictions, and people who hold a wide array of political beliefs. Some of us are vegan; others are avid hunters. What binds us together is that we are a team. We care about one another, our consumers, cannabis and the planet we all call home. It is our conviction that this diversity of opinions and backgrounds is exactly what will make us stronger as a company – our executive team doesn’t want to be surrounded by yes men. We believe you have to be challenged in order to be the best – so those who disagree and challenge our assumptions are exactly the people we turn to listen to and learn from.

Please feel free to reach out if you have further questions. I know this was a long response, but we’re actually pretty passionate about the question. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to answer it!

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