How #IAmCraftBeer Turned a Racist Attack into a Rallying Cry

September 11, 2019

By Diana Hubbell, September 11, 2019

Chalonda White has been a proud member of the craft beer community ever since she tried her first sip of Goose Island a decade ago. In 2011, the Chicago-based writer worked to bring women together as the first President of Chicago Girls Pint Out, and in recent years has spread a message of inclusivity through her online handle, Afro.Beer.Chick.

Last week, she was shocked to open an email loaded with racial slurs. The sender, who identified himself as Brad Jankousky, said that White “[does] not know shit about drinking beer” and that “[racial expletive] do not belong in this country.”

“This was the first time I have ever received something like that. Instead of being upset or letting the negativity get to me, I decided to spin it,” White says. Rather than keep the hurtful incident to herself, she decided to share it. “I posted it to show that there can be more love than hate out there.”

Although White politely reached out to the sender to establish a dialogue, he never responded. The rest of the internet, however, did. Dr. J. Jackson-Beckham, the diversity ambassador for the Brewers Association and founder of Craft Beer for All, saw her tweet and decided to turn an isolated piece of hate speech into a call for action.

Before long, the hashtag #IAmCraftBeer was trending, bringing with it personal stories and proof that beer is far from a monoculture. While beer has not always been the most welcoming space to POC, women, and queer people, there is a growing awareness within the industry of the need to change that. Seeing hundreds of beer-drinkers post in solidarity is a small, but powerful step in the right direction. 

“I have gotten so many personal emails and DMs saying, ‘Hey, we are so sorry that this happened to you,’” White says. “Whoever ‘Brad’ is, he’s probably still lurking out there. I hope that he is, because he can see all of the positivity that came out of his hateful comments.”

White feels slightly overwhelmed by all of the stories. At present, she’s still sorting through and responding to all of the messages flooding into her inbox.

“Honestly, everybody’s story was so unique. You have mothers you have fathers, you have white you have black,” White says. “It goes to show that beer itself can be inclusive for everybody. The only color we should be referencing in this industry is the color of the beer itself, not the person who drinks it.”

ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
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