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Weekly Newsletter June 16, 2020

As someone who has worn a Zuri dress every day for the last three years, I'll be the first to say that it's hard to imagine getting dressed in something that does not have carrots, mushrooms or birds on it!  That being said, we do love a good solid, and we know that many of you have been clamoring for them to be brought into the mix, as well. So we thought: what better way to add beauty and character to a solid fabric, than with texture!

NOW without further ado: we're extremely proud to introduce to you our newest collection of ethically produced linens! Woven by India's oldest certified fair-trade artisanal weaving cooperative, these textiles turned out so beautifully, we couldn't be any more excited to share them! Each fabric is a hand-loomed blend of cotton and linen. We chose this blend for two reasons: 1) to create subtle texture and movement within the weave; and (more practically) 2) so that your shirts and dresses will be super easy to wash and wear, as they'll be more wrinkle resistant, more durable, and drape a bit heavier when worn. (While the fabric was produced in India, the dresses were all proudly stitched in Kenya by our team. ūüíĖ)

Why India, you ask? Some of you may remember that I spent some time in Calcutta a few years ago with the incredible team at Sasha (India's first self-managing artisanal fair-trade collective, founded in 1978). We were blown away by their mission as well as their work. Given their heritage and location, it made sense to work with linen, which is grown in the region. With Sasha, we were able to source ethically grown linen and work with their experienced weavers in West Bengal to make these textiles.  

What's next? Great question! We're always in search of textiles that are both beautiful and ethically produced, particularly when they involve artisanal techniques that can and should be carried on. So many of the textiles we see these days are mechanized reproductions of what would have been originally hand-made, and it's extremely important to us to keep these groups and these traditions engaged. We'd love to hear from you if you have any thoughts or suggestions, and as always, we'll keep traveling, learning, and appreciating the places and people who create the beauty in our world, wherever it may be.

In the meantime, we're thrilled to share these luminous textiles with you, and we promise that they will be your absolute go-to's this summer!

PS Shoutout to mother-daughter duo Inja and Nia for modeling our new fabrics!

Meet Rebati! From Tulshabari in East Medinipur, she has been weaving now for the past five years and has become an extremely accomplished weaver. Rebati is proud of the fact that her income and talent allow her family to lead a better life and set an example for her children.

 

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Truth Be Told with Tonya Mosley

We love this podcast. Host Tonya Mosley takes listener questions and dispenses advice and so much truth! We especially recommend listening to last week's episode where she discusses the recent protests and systemic racism with Dr. Eddie Glaude from Princeton's African American Studies Department.

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis

This collection of essays by activist and scholar Angela Davis is indispensable, especially in this moment when we are confronting injustice and creating change. Her analysis of past liberation struggles and discussions of intersectionality provide both inspiration and actionable grounds for how we can take on state violence and dismantle systemic racism and injustice individually and collectively.

 

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // What I Pledge Allegiance To by Kiese Laymon

We're big fans of Keise Laymon, and this essay on American-ness will stay with you long after you finish reading. 

"I am a black Mississippian. I am a black American. I pledge to never be passive, patriotic, or grateful in the face of American abuse. I pledge to always thoughtfully bite the self-righteous American hand that thinks it’s feeding us. I pledge to perpetually reckon with the possibility that there will never be any liberty, peace, and justice for all unless we accept that America, like Mississippi, is not clean. Nor is it great. Nor is it innocent."

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Weekly newsletter June 9, 2020

Zuri Connection

We could not be more proud to be in the company of truly inspiring women who are working to make our world more equal and just. In a moment where we all must take action, we want to highlight some of the women in the Zuri community whose scholarship, creativity, and activism are enacting real, lasting change in dismantling structural racism in this country and around the world.

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING AND READING // How to Be Less Stupid About Race by Dr. Crystal Fleming

Dr. Crystal Fleming is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies at SUNY Stony Brook and author of How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy and the Racial Divide. We encourage you to watch this interview and to read her book. "To see all that we are still seeing in 2020, it should devastate you. It should make you question everything that you have been taught. It should make you question what it means to be a human being."

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Race, Power and Inequity in San Francisco with Shakirah Simley

Shakirah Simley is the Director of the Office of Racial Equity for the City and County of San Francisco. In this podcast she discusses the current state of equity and inequity in SF and the steps that the city is taking with consideration for SF's racial history towards meaningful change. We also encourage you to watch The Politics of Food presented by @AfroPunk and
@BlackFoodFolks in which Ms. Simley discusses the difference between being an ally and an accomplice and her own activism.

"Who are you showing up for? Are you showing up for you, or for the movement itself, or for the community? Decenter yourself in a way that connects the collaborative and the community versus the self... Our online activism has to be met with our offline action."

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // Racism in Our Streets and Structures featuring Dr. Marcia Chatelain

We encourage you to watch this conversation featuring Dr. Marcia Chatelain, a provost's distinguished associate professor of history and African-American studies at Georgetown University. She is the author of South Side Girls: Growing Up in the Great Migration (2015) and an organizer of the #FergusonSyllabus. 

"I want everyone to sit down with their local budget and look at how much money is going into policing, policing in schools, as well as how much money is being spent bringing in arms from the Department of Defense's program into their local policing and ask themselves if they want state violence to be done in their name."

WHAT WE'RE READING // Black Enough edited by Ibi Zoboi

Ibi Zoboi was a National Book Award finalist for her novel, American Street, and in her most recent work, Black Enough, she edits an anthology of stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America. This young adult novel is ideal for 7th to 8th graders, and we encourage you to share it with the young readers in your life.

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Weekly Newsletter June 2, 2020

We've been struggling the last week with overwhelming rage, frustration and grief but just recognizing these feelings and the injustices that cause them is not enough -- we must take action. We are actively educating ourselves, reading, listening, engaging, speaking out and standing up against the white supremacy and systemic racism that this country has perpetuated since its founding, and we hope that you will join us. We've been sharing resources on social media that we have found helpful or have been recommended by others, we have more below (both new and from past newsletters), and we will continue to share.

Thanks to your support over the last two weeks, we have donated $10,000 to GiveDirectly's Kenya Covid-19 Fund, and starting this week, we will be donating all profits from the sales of our masks to the Equal Justice Initiative which is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in our society.

We really want to highlight the power of this community, OUR community -- thanks to your support, we have donated a total of 18,000 masks to vulnerable Kenyans, and now $10,000 that will support 334 people and help them through this pandemic in Nairobi, not to mention the jobs you've enabled us to continue to support through the production of these masks. We are strong and we are powerful when we come together.

Black Lives Matter. We cannot be silent, we must act. Join us.

WHAT WE'RE READING // The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century by Grace Lee Boggs

From legendary activist Grace Lee Boggs, this manifesto lays out her vision for a more compassionate, humanistic future and what we can do to bring it into our present. The world she envisions feels particularly prescient today as are reminded of the fragility and inequality in our social, political and economic systems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // Black Feminism & the Movement for Black Lives: Barbara Smith, Reina Gossett, Charlene Carruthers

This conversation between feminist scholar Barbara Smith, activist Reina Gossett and activist and organizer Charlene Carruthers is an inspiring primer about Black Feminism and how it has been and continues to be foundational to social justice movements today.

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Code Switch

This podcast doesn't hesitate to talk about race. The hosts, journalists of color, take on all parts of modern life, from pop culture, to politics, to the economy and history, diving into how race plays a role in every aspect of all of our lives.

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Weekly Newsletter May 19, 2020

We've got you covered!

Thanks to the feedback and encouragement from many of you, after producing and donating masks in Kenya over the past few weeks, we are now producing non-medical masks that are available for sale in the US and in Europe! We will be donating all of the proceeds to GiveDirectly's* Kenya Covid-19 Fund, which is sending digital cash transfers directly to low-income families in Kibera and Mathare in Nairobi. The economic impact of the pandemic is being felt around the world, and we believe strongly in the dignity and value of cash transfers to allow people to take care of themselves and their communities.

The masks are made with 100% cotton kitenge and have two layers with contrasting prints on either side. Each mask has a pocket in the middle where you can insert a filter and elastic ear-straps for an easy and secure fit. We've made them in two sizes, so hopefully they can fit you, your family and friends!

Each mask is handmade and unique, so the prints will vary from what's pictured!

Given the obvious nature of these masks, all sales are final!

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // The Dialectic by Zadie Smith

Is that Zadie Smith, one of our favorite authors of all time, in a Zuri? Why yes, yes it is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She needs no introduction, really, all we can say is read her work! From her first short story collection, Grand Union, The Dialectic is incisive and quick, and you'll wish to keep reading!

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // Bisa Butler, In the Artist’s Studio

Hosted by the Museum of the African Diaspora, this conversation with artist Bisa Butler about her work and her inspirations is a fascinating must watch!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Black Chick Lit

This podcast talks books by and about black women, and we especially recommend this episode from a few years ago where they discuss Swing Time by Zadie Smith. With humor and deep insight, hosts Dani and Mollie share books they love and we assure you, you'll love them, too!

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Weekly Newsletter May 4, 2020

Celebrating Moms Everywhere!

We love how intergenerational our dresses have become, and it's so inspiring to see families represented in the Zuri sisterhood (we have four generations of one family in Zuri in the photos above - clockwise from the top left, Inja, Nia, Blanche, Besia, Robin, Robin, Ginger, Julie, Kim, Jamie, DeeDee, James)! This Mother's Day, while we may not be able to spend time in person with our mothers, we encourage you to take some time and reach out to the women in your lives, mothers in the broadest sense, and say thank you!

WHAT WE'RE READING // The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Author Isabel Wilkerson was the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism and the first African American to win for individual reporting. In her debut book, Wilkerson maps the epic journey of six million people who left the South and changed America through the stories of three remarkable individuals. With powerful specificity and sweeping breadth, this is essential reading for understanding the history of this country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // NATAL by Martina Abrahams Ilunga and Gabrielle Horton

NATAL is a podcast about having a baby while black in the US. Black mothers are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes compared to white mothers, and 60% of those deaths are preventable. In the first episode, host Gabrielle Horton talks with a new mother about her ending up in the emergency room two weeks after giving birth, alone and ignored, fighting for her life.

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Amara Touré & L'Orchestra Massako

Amara Touré, a legendary Guinean singer and percussionist, rose to fame in Dakar in the 1950's and 60's. Originally a member of the Star Band de Dakar, he was part of the Afro-Cuban movement that defined the mid-century music scene in Senegal.  This album is one of my all-time favorites; energizing, rhythmic, and soulful, it will fill your room (and your mind) with joy.

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