b&b 148 #DeadDayJobArmy Safety Pin Box’s Co-Founder Leslie Mac
Welcome to the Dead Day Job Army, a monthly Brunch & Budget series where entrepreneurs and freelancers of Color share their stories and talk about the real. We ask folks to leave their shiny pictures and Instagram highlights at the door and tell us what it’s really like to do the work, put in the time, and devote your life to your work.
It’s not easy to start your own business and it’s even harder when it feels like you have to explain to your family what you do every time you see them, when you walk into an event and can count on one hand the PoC in the room, when you try to ask for what you’re worth, but don’t want to get passed over for the next person.
Leslie Mac is a Brooklyn-born activist & first generation American of Jamaican ancestry. She founded the Ferguson Response Network to connect nationwide efforts supporting the important racial justice movement started in Ferguson, MO. She is a Lead Organizer for Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism and hosts the Interracial Jawn Podcast and Ferguson Response Network Podcast. Safety Pin Box is a monthly subscription box for white people striving to be allies in the fight for Black Liberation. This works as a financial assistance, but also includes tasks for its members, so it provides its users’ knowledge on how to act against white supremacy.
We engaged in a dicussion with her about her past work, her opinions on activism, and the work she does as a co-founder for Safety Pin Box.
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Leslie Mac: One of the things we found with Safety Pin Box is a lot of our subscribers really want like some personal connection to us. I’d frame them in a consumptive framework a little bit . There is that notion of, especially when dealing with white folks, that they wanna consume content, and part of that becomes consuming us as people.
Leslie Mac: Marissa had this realization…obviously the commercialization is part of our society, but it’s telling that the beneficiaries of that commercialization always fall back to those that are in power always fall back to white power bases and those are the people that get to benefit from these structural changes even when they do happen.
Leslie Mac: In the context of teaching white people about race, because really when you think about it they’re children. They’re kinda like a five year old when it comes to race relations. A five year old knows not to play in traffic, but they’ll still run after a ball when it rolls into the street. And that’s how white people are when it comes to race.
Leslie Mac: That’s how supremacy functions. It’s meant to obscure itself from those that benefit from it most.
Leslie Mac: We call it the Black Women Being Gift Fund and it’s built on a very simple concept that black women don’t have to prove shit to me or Marissa.
Leslie Mac: Legislative work is a really good way to get yourself into work like this (activism).
Leslie Mac: For me and for many in the movement–Black Lives–there is a before Ferguson and an after Ferguson in our general conversations about our work and the things that we want to do in the world.
Leslie Mac: I saw Fruitvale Station…and I sat in the theater after the credits finished for like 30 minutes…and just had this general epiphany of ‘what have I been doing? What is my life adding up to at this moment? And what am I gonna do differently moving forward?’
Leslie Mac: How Ferguson response team came to be was there was this hole, a vacuum, which was twofold: one was so many people were doing so many things, protests erupting everywhere in response to Ferguson…and two there was a real active, especially by mainstream media, effort to minimize those reactions, so they didn’t want to say how many cities were protesting.
Leslie Mac: I had no choice but to become an entrepreneur to accomplish the things I want to accomplish.
Leslie Mac: I like to tell people to really think about where their own expertise already lies.
Leslie Mac: Think locally…there’s no community that isn’t doing work already.
Leslie Mac: The act of organizing is not consultative. What our job is is to really listen to communities because every community I’ve ever been in, they know exactly what the fuck is wrong and they know exactly what the fuck to do. There’s no mystery to them. The people most affected are always experts at their own experience.
Leslie Mac: Know that you’re going to fuck up, and plan for it ahead of time.