The death of George Floyd, the issues of systemic racism, violence, and brutality that our POC communities have suffered at the hands of the authorities, together with the protests around the world has been truly horrifying. This week I needed to address what was happening with my team and come up with a plan for how we as a company should respond.
We have POCs on our team and are a core part of our community here in the US and around the world. We’ve led numerous programs that are aimed at supporting D&I initiatives and consider our role in the fight against inequality and injustice to be one of our most important responsibilities, but we don’t always get it right. I don’t always get it right. I know we need to do better.
The first thing I did this week was apologized to my team for not addressing what is happening sooner and more directly. On Monday morning, I tried to write something with the aim of publishing something publicly, but I couldn’t find the right words and became paralyzed by a fear of getting it wrong tonally. This is how many of us feel in the business world, but of course, this is wrong. As many have said, to be silent is to be complicit and that is not who we are. Black Lives Matter. This movement matters. Taking bold action matters. Doing something that feels scary and risky matters.
It is imperative that we use this moment to fight harder than ever before against violence and racism. We must work together as a team and with our community to amplify the voices and stories of the people impacted and affected by what is happening. Now more than ever we need to lead with empathy and support the Black community in this fight for justice.
Yes, we should post messages of support and our willingness to join the fight for equality and justice. Yes, we should identify the ways in which we can use our platform and influence to impact the issue in the biggest way we can. But there is so much more we can and should do.
Here are three areas that we are particularly focused on and I encourage you to do the same. This list is by no means exhaustive, so I am asking you to let me know if you have additional ideas around how we can be more effective and have an even bigger impact on the problem.
It is imperative for us to support those most impacted by the protests, especially those people who have been incarcerated and cannot make bail. You can lend support by making a donation to The National Bail Fund Network, which has a full directory of bail funds by state. ActBlue has also set up a secure donation link that will let you simultaneously send money to up to 37 nationwide bail funds. For every dollar an employee donates, Crowdcentric will match. Rolling Stone also shared a helpful breakdown of suggested causes and campaigns that you can support at this time.
Another area that is of great interest to me personally is funding police reform and ways policies can be adjusted to combat police violence.
The Police Use of Force Project has reviewed the rules governing police use of force in America’s largest city police departments to determine whether they include meaningful protections against police violence. They compared police department use of force policies with police killings data for these police departments to see if there was a relationship between the two. They ultimately found that police departments with policies that place clear restrictions on, when, and how officers use force had significantly fewer killings than those that did not have these restrictions in place.
You can learn more about their approach, analysis, and findings here. Please also take the opportunity to donate to support their work going forward.
Exercising our civic responsibility is, above all, critical to ensuring long-standing solutions that will get at the core of these issues. This begins with voting out officials who do not represent our core values and voting in those that will defend black people’s human rights and end systemic racism and police violence and brutality.
To address the issue we have to change the system. According to a piece President Obama wrote recently, this starts with the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.
“If we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform.”
Voting is not just about being registered and about you fulfilling your personal responsibilities, it is essential that we get as many people to vote as possible. We’ve compiled a number of ideas and resources below that will help promote the importance of voting in any future election:
- Verify you are registered to vote: Visit “Vote Save America” and confirm your voter status. You can check here.
- Adopt a Battleground State: Just because you don’t live in a battleground state doesn’t mean you can’t have a huge impact on helping voters in those states make their decision and get to the polls on Election Day.
- Vote by Mail: Vote by mail is one essential way to ensure the 2020 election can go on safely, securely, and on time. Get your absentee ballot here. It takes only two minutes.
I wholeheartedly believe that as a nation we are uneducated around the history and impact of systemic racism in this country and around the world. We must invest our time to become better informed and develop a deeper understanding and awareness that will allow us to properly empathize with black communities who are suffering at the hands of racists and bigots.
As a good place to start, our friends at Tribeca Film Festival put together this fantastic list of films and books that are designed to help us educate ourselves about systemic racism, police brutality, and unconscious bias. We’ve also added a few of our own:
- Anna Deavere Smith and HBO‘s “Notes From The Field“
- Bryan Stevenson‘s “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” and its adaptation of the same name
- The 1996 documentary “Mandela“
- Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ “Between the World and Me” and “We Were Eight Years in Power“
- Sylvia Riveria’s “Y’all Better Quiet Down” speech
- “The End of Policing” by Alex S. Vitale
- “Assata: An Autobiography” by Assata Shakur
- “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson“
- A handy guide to police abolition
- Robin DiAngelo‘s “White Fragility“
- Netflix’s “When They See Us“, co-written, and directed by Ava DuVernay
- “White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son” by Tim Wise
As I said, this is by no means all we can do, but it’s a start and represents a path forward and an opportunity for us to take action, not just now, but for as long as it takes for real change to happen.
We are proud to be in this fight and hope you will join us and other leaders and organizations in our industry and do everything we can to not let this moment go to waste.
Thank you to my team for their support and input into this piece and for holding me accountable in my role as CEO.