01 Jul The Story Behind the George Floyd Glass and a Collaboration That’ll Go Down in the History Books for Beer Chronicle
I cried the day that I heard Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down in the streets. I’m not sure what it was about his story that grabbed my stomach and twisted it in knots, but I can recount just about every moment of that day and a few of the days that followed. It wasn’t the day he was shot. It was the day that I learned that his killers weren’t arrested.
Maybe it was the fact that he was a runner. Or maybe it was his full lips and strong jaw line. All of these things reminded me of a very close childhood friend of mine, Jeremiah. “That coulda been Jedi J,” I whispered to myself as my eyes started to well up.
Maybe it was the fact that this sort of headline, “Black man gunned down by police,” or “Black man gunned down by vigilante citizen,” had flashed by my eyes enough to sear them with pain.
“God. Enough. Why? This HAS to stop. Why does anybody think this is ok!?” I asked myself.
Let me go back to the morning of the day that this all began.
It was Friday, May 8, 2020. I woke up and started my morning routine like any other. I started my cup of coffee, washed my face, brushed my teeth, and threw on some basketball shorts while my coffee finished. I sat down for a minute to read my Bible as the last few drops trickled into the pot like a morning song.
I poured my coffee, sat down, and dug in.
This is something I try and do on a daily basis, but I had gotten out of routine for quite a while since we’ve been quarantined. I was reading about the parable of the good samaritan. It’s a common story, and one I’d heard over and over again for the last 10-or-so years since finding Jesus and changing my life.
Despite reading that story so many times, something about the morning of Friday, May 8 made it stick like tar.
Then, only a few hours later, my lovely wife sent me this video by a guy named Tauren Wells. It made every hair on my body stand up. Even now, listening to it again months later, it makes me misty-eyed and gives me goosebumps all over again.
He talks about some of the haters in the comments, “They say, ‘You shouldn’t use your platform for politics or social justice issues,’” Tauren shares in the video. “But when I post about getting 2,000 kids – starving kids – meals, people just clap and celebrate. It’s applause in my comments section. But once I post a picture of a black man that was shot in the street, then ‘we shouldn’t use our platforms for political issues.’”
Tauren goes on to break down that same story I had just read about a few hours earlier – the story of the good samaritan. He does it in the most simple, concise, and educational way.
I began to cry again as Mr. Wells broke it down, and it struck me…
Now I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t believe in coincidences. I just don’t. Call it the universe aligning, call it a higher power, whatever you’re into, but nothing is purely random. Furthermore, I always say, “if actions speak louder than words, then patterns should be considered sirens.” The Bible’s a pretty big book. Hearing the same story twice in just a few hours set off an alarm in my heart.
I have to do something, I said to myself.
I reached out to my good friend Rontaye “@stayclosetay” Butler. He’s one of the most deep-thinking, sensitive yet tough, most-creative people I’ve ever met in my life. He’s also a black man that has dedicated his life to creating stories about Black culture.
5/8/2020 1:06 PM
Me: Yo. You got a minute to talk?
5/8/2020 1:06 PM
Tay: Hit me mane
I called Tay and asked him how he felt at that moment. I asked him how his family felt. I told him how I felt. I told him about the story of the good samaritan. I told him I didn’t wanna sit by and let this injustice happen to another human, and I wanted his help.
We discussed working on a shirt or an art print, and he said he’d get back to me in a couple of days. Tay’s a highly sought after artist, and he’s got mouths to feed, so my overnight passion wasn’t at the top of his priority list, and a few days went by. I can’t be mad at that.
Then a few more days went by.
Then it’d been a week.
Then almost two weeks.
I followed up, and he said he’d be getting on the idea soon. He sent me an email on 5/17/2020.
“Brother, So sorry for the delay. Takes a bit for me to get to things these days, and obviously not because I don’t have time, but the contrary. I have so much time due to quarantine and the end of a social life (and no kids until I get to Houston), I stockpile my to-do list with too many things. I woke up this morning and prioritized this email.
So. IT’S ALOT OF SHIT HERE!!! Take your time and go thru everything please. Don’t speed-read. We got all the time in the world. Because it’s a lot to consider. I know you didn’t ask for all this, a simple yay or nay would suffice. But that’s not my style. This is a moment. I like to relish in them.“
It sure was a lot, but there was no shit in sight.
What followed was a 2,500 word essay complete with a few visuals, another half a dozen scholarly articles, and a truckload of love and knowledge. My guy schooled the crap out of me, and I was humbled. He opened my eyes to ways that the beer community had used and abused black people and black dollars, and he expressed some hesitance about a collaboration and offered some angles that’d make it work.
Fine. I get it. I read. I learned. I marinated on it, and I decided that I’d do whatever I could, however I could. I replied to him on 5/28/2020 after making good and sure I understood every bit of info he sent in his lengthy essay of an email.
That same day, Thursday, May 28, 2020, we got a DM from one of our most loyal, vocal, passionate fans, Michael “@michael_ram_01” Ramirez. It was 12:38 PM.
Michael said this:
“Houston Beer Chronicle and Ralph @Eyefearnobeer. If Houson’s giants link up and create something for Houston it will be a beautiful thing, just saying… LOL… Maybe I’m dreaming.”
Look. What Micheal wants, Michael gets. There’s a long history that can’t fit in this article, but what Michael wants, Michael gets. Heck, if we happen to have the time, we’ll hand-deliver it to him! We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. But I digress.
He continued, “It will be something Houston NEEDS from all this madness! It will be EPIC!”
*send to Ralph*
Ralph: “Lol, sure man. I’m down for whatever. Craft beer foam party would be pretty legit… after social distancing.”
Me: “Hahahahahaha ok, let’s revisit that when the time comes. Any ideas for a product that can be shipped, like a glass, sticker, or shirt?”
The next day, Friday May, 29, 2020 comes, and I receive a text at 4:17pm. “I got the idea 🔥. Coordinate with these dudes [A Minnesota Brewery] and make a George Floyd glass for the benefit. Floyd was a Houston dude. Worked with DJ FUCKIN SCREW! Get others involved. Would need to move quick AF.”
And so it began.
I reached back out to Tay to let him know this was the opportunity. I reached out to Odell of @brewbroshtx to get his opinion on the matter as well. He dropped a few gems on me. Finally, I reached out to Brent, Josh, and Chris to let them know we were gonna put our muscle behind this. Everybody was game, and we hit the ground running.
Tay and I discussed concepts while Odell and I did the same. Ralph and I discussed logistics, timing, and responsibilities. I illustrated the glasses, and after a few phone calls, it was all ironed out, and we’d launch the glasses at 5:30 PM Wednesday, June, 3, 2020.
Ching Ching Ching, ching, ching, ching my phone started blowing up with orders at about 5:45. Overnight we’d sold a hundred glasses. I started doing the math on what it’d cost us to print the glasses, box and ship, and then pay taxes, and my head started to spin.
Crap, I thought. This is only day one. I’m gonna be on the hook for a lot of responsibility now. I expected to sell a few dozen and donate a couple hundred dollars. I was moving too quickly to realize how big, and how truly meaningful our efforts were until a few days in.
Up until this moment, it was 100% passion. Creativity, collaboration, love, everything that is good about the human spirit. And then 24 hours into the launch, I realized we were in over our heads. After calling my tax guy, and waiting a painfully anxious day for a response, we figured out how to do right by our efforts AND keep any associated risks at bay.
More orders were rolling in every day. Ching Ching my phone kept going off. Hop Culture was kind enough to share the George Floyd glass and my story, as was Houstonia Magazine. Countless others shared and reshared images of the George Floyd glass and links to the article that got it started.
- Leo Longoria @texasbeerexperience at SpindleTap
- One of the first guys to ever get one of our glasses – Craig @skatercraig Schmitt
- Our friend Annie @beergirlhtx
- And James @jamesintheradio Simpson from @whatsontapradio
And dozens of others that shared and helped make this happen. There are too many for us to count and list out here, but just know we appreciate y’all so dang much.
So we bought all the glasses, boxes, tape, fragile stickers, bubble wrap, some tables to box them up on, etc., and then we set aside some money for shipping. (We were gonna have a packing party and invite everybody that helped make it happen, but then my wife and daughter came down with COVID-19, and now I’m packing them 1-deep every night, so please be patient with me!) We advertise “glass ships free,” but c’mon now. Nothing is really free. We pay $10 on average to safely send a fragile glass to somebody’s doorstep coast to coast, so we factored that in.
After paying all the Shopify and PayPal fees, buying all the handling materials, and saving the money for shipping, we were able to raise $3954.88 to George Floyd’s family.
In one breath, that’s a ton of money for us to be donating. In another breath, it’s not nearly enough.
It also sounds kind of like the price tag of a used car, so we rounded up to $4,000, and if we end up having to eat a whopping $45 dollars, so be it!
We had a few folks along the way that said, “Why not just donate directly?” That makes total sense. We couldn’t discourage that one bit. BUT, an individual donation has an individual impact. Everybody that bought this George Floyd glass will share pictures of it, share memories with it, and Big Floyd’s legacy will live on, as will the names of dozens of others listed on it. It will spark conversations in the household of every owner and live much longer than a single donation.
AAAND there’s a donation at the end.
If you donated directly, God bless you. That’s awesome. This glass is a small billboard, and that reach is worth the additional expenses to us.
We wish it were more, but we’ll end up with another smaller donation once all the glasses have shipped. If we’ve overestimated on the shipping, we’ll donate the difference, and once everybody’s received their George Floyd glass, we’ll sell the extras at pop-ups and donate that too. 8th Wonder has already volunteered to host us. So while the second donation won’t be as big, we’re still not done. We’re considering making the second, smaller, donation to a local organization if George Floyd’s family’s GoFundMe page is already closed. We’re still doing our homework on that, though. We expect to be able to donate probably another $1,000 once it’s all said and done. If you have any suggestions to help, drop us a line.
Until then, we’re humbled to play a very small role in the change that needs to happen in our country. We consider it an honor and a privilege to be able to give this money to his family with the hopes that it’ll bring some semblance of justice. And we’re overcome with joy to be a single drop in the waves that are slowly eroding systemic racism and reshaping history. Our kids will read about George Floyd one day, not because he was a saint or a martyr, but because his name served as a line in the sand. And they’ll be able to say their dads played a small part of drawing that line.
Enough is enough. Be a good samaritan and stand up for people that need your help – people of any color, race, religion, or sexual preference. Stand up for humans, and make it a part of your personality, not just a one-time thing. Right now, black people are the humans that need the most help defending. Here are some reasons why Black lives matter and some easy ways that you can stand up for Black people as well as a personal story about why this is important to me as a man.
Check out Weathered Souls’ Black is Beautiful collaboration beer as one more way you can support social justice initiatives through your beer hobby, or go vote for the brewery that you think has done the most for Houston beer by standing up for what they believe in. Special thanks to No Label and SpindleTap for reaching out to us for some of these glasses. These are the only two breweries that have ever won the Most Valuable Brewery award. Irony? *Shrugs* You decide.
Finally, we’re still working with Tay on how we can sell some of his art on our store site as a long term effort to educate our audience and continue fundraising efforts.
Beers to you, Houston. We love you
almost as much more than Houston beer. And we appreciate you.