Alex Lindenmeyer: Businesses Must Take a Stand

Alex Lindenmeyer, who owns Short Stack Eatery with Sinead McHugh, says she felt like a successful restaurant owner until the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on their “well-oiled machine.” When the Black Lives Matter movement came to State Street, where Short Stack faces, she and her employees were quick to jump into the streets alongside them and support Black-centered organizations.

As told to Katy Macek | Photography by Shalicia Johnson

It’s not something that [only] happens south of the Mason-Dixon line — [racism] is here. For white people, it has to actively be a decision to care [about this movement]. We’ve been indoctrinated into this white supremacist community and we need to unlearn everything we’ve been taught.

[Madison business owners] have a huge pile of work in front of us. It’s not enough that some small businesses are caring, [big corporations] have to care, too. We all need to say, “I promise that our businesses are not more important than people being run over by trucks.”

We put our employees through lots of on- and off-site training to continue communications about how racist we are. Business owners from the top down have to continue to talk about this until our faces turn blue and look at our internal practice policies and education on what race and equity looks like in our communities.

Short Stack partners with four organizations (Urban Triage, Inc.; The Progress Center for Black Women; Nehemiah: Center for Urban Leadership Development; and JustDane, formerly Madison Area Urban Ministry) that look at root causes of things like systemic racism, incarceration, homelessness, etc. We partner financially [and otherwise], sitting on boards, advocating for them in the community and attending and organizing events.

We organized supply drop-offs at Short Stack that we distributed to protesters. [We provided] water, Gatorade, sunscreen, medical supplies and constant communication; if they needed something, we [were and] are a safe space for them. We’ll continue that as long as protests continue.

It’s been really disheartening to see how many people are shocked by the violence against Black bodies when the Black community has been shouting and we haven’t been listening.

Time has run out and we have to get our act together. Black people have been tired, so this is our work to do, and it’s endless. I like to say: I’ll be a racist in recovery until I die.

Read more from our Solidarity in the City article here.

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