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Academics for Black Lives

With the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in late May 2020, University of Florida advisor Dr. Della V. Mosley and doctoral student Pearis Bellamy felt moved to act. They could see that there was an interest and a need for education around race and social issues, so they created a national collaboration and grassroots effort to help. In order to offset the costs and to lend support to educators who are participating, they launched a series of t-shirt fundraisers through Custom Ink.

Dr. Della V. Mosley (L) and Pearis Bellamy (R)

They called their organization Academics for Black Survival and Wellness and use the hashtag #Academics4BlackLives. “As Black academics living through this time we (Pearis Bellamy, a Black doctoral student, and Dr. Della V. Mosley, advisor, University of Florida, Counseling Psychology) were working and found ourselves unable to continue on with our regularly scheduled research and teaching responsibilities without doing something to promote wellness for Black people,” they told us. “We felt an immediate intervention was needed to reduce the rate and impact of anti-Black racism. So, alongside an incredible group of Black counseling psychologists and our colleagues who practice Black allyship and activism, we developed Academics for Black Survival and Wellness.”

They began their effort with a free 7-day training course in June. The program is dedicated to “personal and professional development of non-Black academics to honor the toll of racial trauma on Black people, resist anti-Blackness and white supremacy, and facilitate accountability and collective action.”

They told us, “The purpose of this training is to intervene against anti-Black racism and other forms of white supremacy as it manifests in academia and, in turn, enhance the safety and wellness of Black students, staff, faculty, and community members. In addition to the training for non-Black academics, there is a wellness track for Black people—this includes virtual wellness programming designed for Black people to heal and continue to resist.”

They decided to run a fundraiser to raise money to pay for the program expenses including ASL interpretation and web development. They also wanted to raise money to compensate the educators who were making the project happen. “Because anti-racist education and training are often provided by Black people and Black allies without compensation (usually it is a labor of love) and culturally mindful healing services are needed for Black people at this time, our fundraising purpose is to compensate the trainers and healers for their contributions to the program, which is being provided to the public at no cost.”

For their design, they turned to Mike Tallman of Addnoise Studios who volunteered his graphic design services for the cause. They say, “This campaign would not have the success it is having were it not for Mike’s work ethic, creative skill, and commitment to executing our vision.”

Mike’s custom t-shirt design.

The fundraisers have done well for them. “Fundraising shouldn’t take up too much of your time as an organizer, but it is super important to the work in this sociopolitical moment,” they told us. “Through Custom Ink we have learned that fundraising doesn’t have to take up too much time and that with a good team and design it can really fuel your organizing work while you are laboring in other ways.” They also urge people to think about who and what they’re supporting in these times and to pay attention to where their money goes. “Please support the creators, fundraisers, and collectives whose membership or at least whose profits are going to the people in need.”

Their effort has been a success as well. More than 10,000 people signed up for that initial week, and requests began rolling in for further training opportunities, prompting them to follow up with a 21-day training in August. You can read more about their mission and see what they have planned next on their website.

See and support one of their fundraisers here.

Miellyn is the Copy Manager at Custom Ink. Her work has spanned marketing for television networks like TLC and Travel, educational content for Smithsonian and National Geographic, marketing and story for indie video games, essays for publishers including Random House, The Telegraph, and Smart Pop Books, and stories for press outlets like VICE and VH1.

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