I penned the below letter to the East Bay Express after finding out the Editor was okay with using the 'N-Word'. At this time Feelmore has suspended its advertising with EBX. We have no doubt that they will work for the communities trust but until then we had to suspend our advertising with them. We are a store that supports those that come in regardless of Politics, Race, Religion, Gender, Sexual Expression...it's important that those we do business with express those values as well.
Until then, check out our billboard at the corner of Grand Ave/Telegraph Ave in Oakland.
We wholeheartedly support the overarching vision and mission of the EBX. I have profound respect for the writers as they give voice to those that need to be amplified for necessary change. I am inspired by journalism because of you. But now, I have my doubts that the journalism or stories that were chosen serve the best interests and overall wellbeing of our local community and its long history of progressivism and activism.
As a small business owner starting from the trunk of my car, I found value in your 'Think Indie' campaign which I had the honor of being a part of. But the recent issues with the Editorial department have struck a historical nerve. As a business owner, but more importantly, as a proud African-American, I can remember the stories my family would recount while living in the Deep South. One story, in particular, is when my Dad had to drink from a 'Colored Only' water fountain in Arkansas. In my first year of College in Utah, a white man called me the N-word. Your use of the word reopened a wound that I have tried to forget for over twenty years.
Advertising is so important to Feelmore. Very few people knew about our existence when we began our journey eight years ago. I remember the first day we opened, February 14, 2011. It was raining, and the controversy around the grand opening of a sex store was publicized—helping us bring in $214.63 on our first day. I would be remiss to leave out the positive impact that advertising with EBX has made for my business. But it is because of the stories my family told me and the indignities that I continue to endure as a Black person, that I must suspend my advertising with East Bay Express, effective immediately until tangible, internal change occurs. This is a very difficult decision as it hits our bottom line. As a community leader, I witness people in power abuse their roles, and there are no repercussions for their actions. You have taken the first steps by expressing remorse and asking for forgiveness for the use of such shameful speech. More action is needed to ensure that you are worthy of community trust. Oakland deserves that, and so does the greater East Bay.
Lastly, when I started Feelmore, my Mother told me that I am already disadvantaged because of my skin color and the negative perceptions associated with the sex industry. Yet, I see my courage to defy my odds in pursuit of the multicultural American Dream is what sets me and Feelmore aside from those who fear to speak up out of fear of backlash.
Founder Feelmore Adult