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I’m white.

I’m Mennonite.

I’m the writer for Ten Thousand Villages.

It’s February, so here I am, writing about Black History Month. I feel ill-equipped.

I work here—a nonprofit started by another white Mennonite woman in 1946 who saw a need and an opportunity.

We continue the work today: selling handcrafted goods made largely by women of color in communities filled with beauty and skill, often lacking in economic resources and the services that go with that.

Nuts collected and made into shea butter by artisans with Ele Agbe in Ghana.
Nuts collected and made into shea butter by artisans with Ele Agbe in Ghana. Hawa Yakuba carries a bowl of roasted shea nuts in extra large stainless steel bowl on her head.
Artisan making shea butter with Ten Thousand Villages partner, Ele Agbe in Ghana.

There’s a history of white colonialism in many of these communities. And so the work we do—providing fair-traded goods made by talented artisans to customers in the USA and Canada—we endeavor to do with eyes open. With a promise to educate ourselves, and to be allies to artisan partners around the world. To listen, to learn, to be wrong, to correct, to support one another, and celebrate each other too.

From goods we sell by artisans in Ghana at Ele Agbe who create shea butter in handmade clay pots.

Black artisans handcraft clay pots at Ele Agbe in Ghana.
Handcrafted shea butter is put into handmade clay pots by Patience Ahiagble (foreground) and Prinscilla Ahiagble, artisans with Ele Agbe in Ghana.
Using the handcrafted shea butter made by Black artisans in Ghana with Ten Thousand Villages partner Ele Agbe.

To inspiration here at home with beautifully handcrafted ceramics by Caroline White at Grayson White Ceramics where “…every piece will leave the studio to become an essential part of a joyful daily routine.” We celebrate these Black makers whose work inspires daily joy!

Caroline White of Grayson White Ceramics
Grayson White Ceramics


Essence Magazine frames February this way: It’s Black Joy Month showcasing the important work of Black Excellence Beyond Borders, highlighting the greatness of black leadership and creativity across all industries and communities around the world.

How will you celebrate this history that continues with its complexities, richness, and diversity that underpins our collective strength.

Faustina Abdulai, ceramicist, Black artisan with Ele Agbe in Ghana.
Faustina Abdulai, Artisan with Ele Agbe
Comfort Akorfa Adjahoe Jennings, founder and CEO of Ele Agbe Co. Ltd
Comfort Akorfa Adjahoe Jennings, Founder and CEO of Ele Agbe Co. Ltd

At Ten Thousand Villages, we celebrate black artisans, and look to them for continued leadership, beauty, and JOY!

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