June 2, 2020

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

Black lives matter. We see the hurt and pain of our country. We recognize the many demonstrations and protests that have taken place. And we’ve been asking ourselves: what can we as a company do?

We will be closed on Friday, June 12th in honor of the silent marches and Washington State general strike organized by Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County. The TOM BIHN crew will receive 06/12 as an additional paid day off.

After the 2016 presidential election, we had open discussions (with translators for each language group) with our employees about their experiences. More recently, we have discussed and grappled with the possibility that some of the TOM BIHN crew may be experiencing increased racism, as Seattle police have reported a rise in crimes against Asian-Americans since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through those experiences, we have learned that one of the most important actions we can take is to listen. Three additional actions that come to mind: donate, learn, and communicate.

We’ve made a donation to The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture — whose new online exhibit Talking About Race is available to all of us. Link is in our profile. It’s an interactive learning exhibit that uses videos, self-reflection exercises, and role playing to help us learn more about bias, being antiracist, community building, self-care, race and racial identity, social identities and systems of oppression, whiteness and the historical foundations of race.

“History is a guide to a better future and demonstrates that we can become a better society — but only if we collectively demand it from each other and from the institutions responsible for administering justice,” Lonnie G. Bunch III, the museum’s founding director and Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, as quoted by The Washington Post.


Sara H - February 14, 2021

Thank you for being a for profit company that supports human rights in the USA.

Aaron - September 30, 2020

The co-founders of BLM are trained Marxists. Please clarify.

Marilia Martin - August 26, 2020

The world will never be free of racism and prejudice. Due to the current events companies have felt as if they have to weight on the issue. But the truth is that if you want to live in a country free of racism and prejudice you are going to have to move to Mars. Just saying.

Fred - August 26, 2020

I guess I should have read your stance with the racist BLM group before I ordered!

john McGregor - June 29, 2020

I missed this posting but I wanted to add my two cents to the discussion. As a longtime customer and person of color of TB products I have to confess I was surprised when you came out so strongly on this issue. I’ve noted TB has studiously avoided voicing any opinions or taking positions on any raging or talked about issues of the day. It seemed to studiously avoid giving offense by decidly sticking to a focus on its bags and their usage. That seemed to carry over to the advertising – which always struck me by its almost determined lack of diversity.

That said I applaud their decision to break their silence. Insofar as there is nothing inherently political about issues these protests have raised but they are rather human questions, now seems the perfect time for a company that has always struck me as centered around a very humanistic ethos: how do we best treat ourselves, each other, the environment, the animals and nature that make up our world, our customers, etc etc in ways that respect and value their humanity.

In short, BLM speaks to, at its core, the essence of what TB stands for. And I’m glad at a time when many are voiceless and silence would have been more easy and comfortable that they are saying that.

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We're the TOM BIHN crew: we design bags, make bags, ship bags, and answer questions about bags. Oh, and we collaborate on blog posts, too.