We’re Renaming Tailwind Tribes


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In 2017, we introduced a product called Tailwind Tribes. At the time, we thought the term “tribe” represented the community atmosphere of the product and seemed like an appropriate name on the surface. 

We were wrong to do so.

“Tribe” is a term many Native nations hold in esteem with deep meaning and connection, but the term also has a challenging past. For Native and Indigenous peoples, the use of the word “tribe” is racially charged (read: “European colonists…used the word ‘tribal’ synonymously with ‘savage’ or ‘primitive’”). 

Over time, we started to get a few messages stating concern over the use of the word “tribes.” But there weren’t many messages…so, we noted the concern and kept on our present course. One day, if we kept hearing from enough people who were upset about it, we’d make a change.

But that’s the problem when it comes to discrimination and racism. If you rely on the majority perspective to guide the proper action, you’re going to end up being in the wrong an awful lot. Because the majority isn’t the group at risk of being oppressed. 

And we fell into that trap. Our privilege was on display.

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, our team started having a lot more honest discussions about racism and how we can work intentionally to become more anti-racist. Inclusion has always been one of our core values, but this moment in history showed that we needed to push beyond Inclusion to be the type of company we want to be. 

One such discussion focused on the name “Tribes.” Could we feel right about offering a product with a name that isn’t only not Inclusive, but downright offensive to some of our members?

Our answer was “no.” So, we’re committing to changing the Tailwind Tribes name and branding by the end of the year. We don’t want to keep adding to the trivialization of the word “tribe,” nor propagate its hurtful connotations to Native communities. 

We’re working through the plan and will seek feedback as we choose a new name, especially from members who have expressed concern or are impacted more personally by this decision. Once we have a new name, it’ll take some time to implement the changes in our marketing materials and software, but we expect to complete the transition by the end of the year. 

We promise to continue to listen and learn so we can do better. Thanks for being patient with us. We hear you — and we promise to keep doing just that. 💙

Kindly,

Danny Maloney 
CEO & Co-Founder
Tailwind

P.S. If you’re interested in hearing more about Tailwind’s anti-racism initiatives, visit https://tailwindapp.com/blog/our-commitment-to-anti-racism-resources/. We would love your input.

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Daniel Maloney is the CEO and Co-founder of Tailwind (http://tailwindapp.com), a marketing platform trusted by hundreds of thousands of businesses worldwide. Tailwind’s mission is to make world-class marketing easy for everyone. A veteran of the internet industry, Danny lead New Initiatives at Google Maps / Local and YouTube, served as General Manager of AOL Video and founded other companies in the fields of e-commerce and visual discovery prior to Tailwind.

61 thoughts on “We’re Renaming Tailwind Tribes

  1. Wow! Thoughtful and deliberate! Thank you for taking this “inconvenient” path and explaining your motivations and well-intentioned reasoning. Fully support this move.

  2. Naming something does not make it racist. But choosing not to name something just because of that particular word is racist and discrimination.
    I don’t get how using ‘tribes’ without meaning to offend anyone is racist?

    1. Thanks for reading and for your comment. One lens that helps me think through situations like this: Communication is judged at the ear of the receiver, not the communicator. Even if our intent wasn’t to be racist, if some people interpret it that way, it’s on us to hear them out and consider their feelings. In this case, we heard from enough people who felt that way that we couldn’t feel good about staying the course. Changing is the right thing to do. And I believe we can move to a new name that’s even better and won’t cause the same negative feelings for members of our community.

  3. Hi – I do see where you’re coming from. I really appreciate your sensitivity and commitment to improvement, However, this is really unnecessary. It’s a bit silly to be honest. Incredibly over sensitive people will always find things to be offended by. You will never quell them. ‘Tribes’ is only insensitive to people who look very, very hard for things to be offended by. (and often by people who are not even the minority that is apparently outraged). ‘Tailwind Tribes’….good grief. You’re letting the pendulum of sensitivity swing way too far over. People need to fix the things that actually ARE offensive. (by voting for one thing). – I do think your intentions are noble, but rater unnecessary. – take care!

  4. If you follow the Bible, it describes people of tribes. I don’t agree that you messed up. I think you are just over thinking things.

  5. Well done Tailwind, for showing up and making a change! As a woman of colour, I am proud to be part of this community and am pleased to see you holding yourself accountable. We are all accountable for the unconscious racism and privilege we hold, and you did something about it. Keep up the good work!

  6. This is a great move – thank you for being consciously anti-racist. Many travel communities describe themselves as “tribes” too, and I hadn’t considered the negative connotations of that word until now. Definitely food for thought.

  7. That’s ridiculous. Tribes are also used by Jews when speaking about themselves. For instance, we say to another person we think is Jewish, are you a member of the tribe? Way back when, there was the Macabee tribe and other Jewish tribes. Just because you have mostly white folks working at your company does not make you racist. As black people are only 13% of the US, clearly there would be more white people in any given situation. If your office was made up 50% white and 50% black, then that would mean you give preference to black people. Simple math. Jews make up even less of the population, but I don’t see anyone worrying about having the equal amount of Jews anywhere. Most tv shows talk about Christmas, not Chanukkah. As we make up such a small percentage then obviously more people will celebrate Christmas than Chanukkah.

    Having less blacks than whites has nothing to do with privilege which is totally bs anyway. I’m a liberal, so don’t call politics into it. Trump is a racist ass.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Edward. Being Jewish myself, I understand where you’re coming from. My intent here isn’t to suggest all uses of the word “tribe” are bad. Our heritage does date back to the tribes of Israel – so using the word tribe in that context feels more appropriate. But some who do feel deep connections to their familial or ancestral tribes find using the word “tribe” in a marketing context to be cheapening the word or concept. I’m not suggesting or implying everyone feels that way or needs to, but we’ve heard from enough people who do that a change in name is the right move to make. Hopefully we can land on an even better name for all.

  8. A “tribe” is a very connected social group of people, usually formed of family and friends, that have similar interests or characteristics in common. It is an honor to be part of such a group. I live near several reservations and have Native American friends who are proud of their tribal roots. These friends consider it a great honor to be part of the tribe and they raise their children with the values that have been passed down to them from their ancestors. Many of them hold positions on the Tribal Council to help teach people about the history and lifestyle of the tribe. A tribe is a beautiful part of life and to the people that value this, we don’t consider it racially charged.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Lacee. Yes, it’s definitely a complex issue. In any group of people, there will always be differing opinions. That’s part of what makes our world so rich and interesting to live in. I didn’t intend to imply that all members of native and indigenous communities feel this way, nor that they should if they don’t. However, we’ve heard from enough people who do that we’ve decided making a change is the right course of action.

  9. Did you bother to even ask if it was offensive or like so many people today you just assumed?

    1. Hi Cheryl- Thanks for the question. We’ve been hearing from folks about this issue over time, which is what brought it to our attention. We know not everyone will feel the same way, but after talking it through we felt the right course of action is to make a change. If we can have a great product with a new name that people also love but doesn’t create the same negative feelings for members of our community, that will be a better solution for everyone.

    1. Hi Alyssa- Thanks for pushing us; we’ll move as quickly as we can, but we want to make sure we have time to welcome community input and do this well vs rushing into a change that may need to be changed yet again. Hope that makes sense.

  10. I feel this has gone too far now. Of course, I am all for equal rights for all, anti-racism or exclusion and disadvantage of any kind etc, fervently in fact, but tribes? Come on, seriously. Your tribe are your people, your team, people who band together for a common purpose, people you identify with. It’s a positive term of inclusion and cooperation. I am a white person living in a predominantly non-white country and am subject to racism, exclusion, disadvantage, and sometimes abuse, so I do understand some of the issues and how language has to be used carefully. I certainly don’t enjoy this white privilege I should apparently be ashamed of having. But this decision now upsets me that a few people can only see something negative when tribe to me is such a positive term. We are teetering on a knife-edge of trying to please everybody when there are a tiny but vocal minority of people who are just offended by every darned thing and just itching to pick a fight all the time. I like tribes, I like having a community.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Susan. I truly appreciate it. I think there are definitely appropriate uses of the word “tribe” and you’ve highlighted that. For many, it’s a positive term and one they hold near and dear. Where I think a lot of the hurt comes from is when people feel that word is misapplied, especially in the realm of marketing. When your are so proud of your tribe, your family, your people it can feel cheapened by seeing others use the word or concept in a way that appears driven by profit.

  11. So sorry you are having to change your name that you have worked on hard to brand. I thought of tribes as groups of like-minded people ( in my case teachers) and tailwind as the wind (or motivation) of a group. I like your name and I am so sorry you have to change it.
    Crazy world we live in.

  12. Unless you have received email/letters regarding this issue – It seems like you’re overthinking and/or trying to appear woke to better your brand.

    1. Hi Carrie- Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. We have in fact received complaints on this issue over time, which is part of what brought it to our attention. I understand it’s not a universal or even majority-held opinion, but we’ve heard from enough folks over time that we felt changing the name is the right path forward. If we can move to a better name and still have a great product without the downsides of the current name, that feels like a win-win. This particular product is also community-driven, so all members gain value when more people participate. It’s bad for everyone to have a name that drives some away from joining in.

  13. I am native. I belong to the Kiowa tribe. I quit reading your material because I felt you were dominant culture privileged and grabbing. I didn’t unenroll, I just removed my capacity for this to be a win/win relationship because I felt like for me, it wasn’t designed to be. Thank you for your capacity to change. The energy of dignity is powerful.

  14. I’m part Cherokee. You did not mess up. You are not racist and were not any more racist for using a very common word like “tribe”. A trivial percentage of people choose to be offended by commonly used words, they are the ones who need to progress, grow and change.

  15. So sad to see companies falling victim to feelings of guilt for thinking they somehow have “white” privilege. Did you not struggle and work hard to get where you are…to create this business or was it just handed to you because of the color of your skin? If you were actually a blind man and couldn’t see any color at all, do you really think any of your choices and decisions would have been any different? Privilege doesn’t come from being born a certain color… white or black, we all have our struggles in life. The REAL privilege is to ALL of us that were lucky enough to have been born in the United States of America!

    1. Thank you for commenting, Tianna. As you suggest, I have worked incredibly hard throughout my life from grade school to university to working for other companies through to co-founding and building Tailwind. It’s been decades at this point of very long days, nights, weeks, months to get to where I am. And before me, my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents also struggled and worked incredibly hard to help our family advance from impoverished European immigrants to a point that my sister and I have had far greater opportunities than they would have dreamed possible. I’m also very grateful to have been born in the USA – that is indeed a huge source of privilege in the world.

      My skin color alone did not get me to where I am today. But it also didn’t hurt me in those pursuits. It never hurt my chances of getting a job. I never faced discrimination over my skin color or had to deal with hurtful remarks or actions because of it. I’ve had almost only positive interactions with law enforcement and other authority figures. But many are not so lucky – not so privileged. Admitting that privilege exists and has benefitted me doesn’t nullify all of my hard work or what I’ve accomplished so far in life. It’s just being honest and saying: “yes, this is the state of the world.” And then, the next step is admitting that it doesn’t have to and shouldn’t be this way. I would love for everyone in the world to have that same privilege. I believe we can grow the pie by creating greater opportunity for all.

  16. Well, I’m Jewish. Jews are also an ancient tribal people. You have our permission to continue using the word tribe. I mean really!

    1. Thank you, Rae – I actually am as well. Like you, I personally didn’t take offense to the use of the name. However, others did and we want to be respectful of them. Hope that makes sense. 🙂

    2. Thank you, Rae – I actually am as well. Like you, I personally didn’t take offense to the use of the name. However, others did and we want to be respectful of them. Hope that makes sense. 🙂

  17. The only true change is having people of color in decision-making positions. Even though your heart is in the right place and intention to help reverse this oversight, you can truly fully understand unless you live with it. Some would think otherwise, this is only a cosmetic or PR fix.

    Sorry, just being truthful.

    1. Hi Michele- Thanks for the comment. I agree with you – this change is only one small piece of much larger change that needs to happen. If you’d like to learn more about what we’re working on more broadly, please feel free to email [email protected] or message us in our dashboard and we’ll get you more details.

  18. Wow, I’m Native American and take absolutely no offense to the word tribe or with you using it in your name. Honestly, society has gotten out of control with how easily they are offended. THAT is what offends me, is the current weakness of our society! It’s despicable!

  19. Thank you, many good things in here and I commend you for starting this journey. AND I commend you for stating it will take months to do this. As a society, we have much to remake and just because it will take time doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start the process. Best wishes to you as you do.

  20. For that matter you should also acknowledge that the word tribe was invented by Europeans to describe a social unit from another culture, also historically maligned.

  21. My input is that I think that it is downright ludicrous to think that changing the name tribes due to some people’s heightened sensitivity based upon current political adversity. There will always be adversity and if you continue to change in an attempt to remain in the graces of such people, then you will nearly always find yourself looking for a new name. There is nothing wrong with the name tailwind tribes.

    Definition of TRIBE: a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.
    “indigenous Indian tribes”

    The last part is an example of a tribe, not the sole ownership of the word and/or definition. By definition, Tailwind Tribes is aptly named. We are a group of people working towards a common goal, we do have a language of our own (we speak in Pinterest and Instagram, this is who we are. I vote that you do NOT change the name.

    1. Thanks for the input, Frank. I appreciate it. If we land on a new name that’s just as good or better than Tribes and clears the way for more people participating in the community, will anything be lost?

  22. I appreciate your wanting to do the right thing and be sensitive to people of other races. I disagree about Tailwind Tribes being offensive. Both my husband and I are said to have American Indian genes (from different tribes) but we don’t feel that anyone using the term “tribes” is racist. Why can’t it be honoring part of our American history? Why is using any name that is American Indian or has that background racist? To me that seems rather like people are trying to forget our history and that is upsetting. We have grown, we have changed, we have intermarried. Let us rather celebrate the name “Tailwind Tribes” and seek ways to honor American Indians with it.

  23. Wow, thank you so much for being committed to acknowledging your shortcomings, being transparent about it, and acting to rectify this wrong. My goodness, I hope that other services/companies are paying attention and follow suit. I hope that this is only the beginning and Tailwind will continue to have these conversations to bring about positive change that will impact not only this company, but the industry. Thank you.

    – A young, black, educated, and aspiring content creator.

  24. Seriously? Now even my Pinterest scheduler is political. As someone of predominantly Cherokee heritage, I’m bothered by your need to even consider this. How many of the few “concerned” were even 1/10th Native American? I bet very close to zero.

    And thanks for the history lesson, but if you dig deep enough into history, you can find thousands upon thousands of facts that can be extrapolated as being racist or offensive in some way to one group or another. Dissimilar treatment by police officers is racist. Use of the noun “tribe” is not. It’s actually a compliment. I’m also an Atlanta Braves fan – not offended.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Zack. I didn’t intend to imply that everyone with Native American heritage feels this way or should, but we’ve heard from enough people over time who do that we decided a change is in order. I appreciate that you feel differently. Thanks for letting us know. 🙂

  25. Thank you! I didn’t think much about the word, it’s been used a lot and I like the meaning of deep and meaningful connection but not the negative association of savage. I’m so glad you’re doing the hard things x

  26. I am an Indian! I am brown and the word tribe being offensive just did not occur to me. Anyway, if that is the way please go ahead and change it. Will hang on. Wishing you all the very best.

  27. If you look at its entomology you will see ‘Tribe’ is an anthropological term which, being in use since the Roman period, doesn’t specifically relate to any one particular race, creed or culture. Unfortunately, as with so much of the English language, the term has been hijacked, ‘weaponised’ and deployed by various left-wing groups with a political agenda. Of course, nobody should ever have to feel subjugated by any word or term and see why, when its use has become suspect, it needs changing. However, we are entering very dangerous times when we have to ban rather than re-educate.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, John. In this particular case, I don’t feel the term is being weaponized or hijacked by any groups. The people who have reached out to us over time to express concern have done so in very kind, thoughtful and authentic ways. Their ask was simply to hear them out and consider their perspective. We did so and decided a change is the right course of action.

  28. I think it’s wonderful that people are demonstrating care for each other and I know that’s at the heart of what you’re doing. However, facts are important too, otherwise we can have the right motives but in the end do the wrong thing. Tribes is simply a word for people groups, it doesn’t apply just to Native Americans and is not offensive or negative in any way. Our language is important and we shouldn’t be afraid to use it 🙂 Best wishes

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