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In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the brutal hands of former Minneapolis police officers, the world’s biggest tech companies stepped forward in the fight against long-standing systemic racism.
From millions of dollars worth of donations to hard-hitting statements, the likes of Google, Apple, Facebook and more have played their part in support of the US’ outcry for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Riots ensued in the days following the shocking footage of Derek Chauvin, former Minneapolis police officer, kneeling on the neck of a helpless George Floyd who as a result of being held down for almost nine minutes, suffered a cardiac arrest and died.
Being at the helm of such powerful and influential platforms, the heads of these tech giants rightfully used them to their benefit to spread the word of unity and support.
On June 1, Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, came out with a statement on Twitter claiming that all US Google and YouTube pages will show support and spread awareness through the addition of a black ribbon accompanied by these moving words: “We stand in support of racial equality, and all those who search for it.”
Two days later, in an open letter, he stated that “showing support is important, but it isn’t enough,” and with that announced the donation of $12 million to organisations working towards addressing racial inequities.
But the donation will still not be enough. Google will also be working alongside its Black community to come up with initiatives and product ideas that will provide long-term support to the cause.
CEO of Apple, Tim Cook also released an open letter speaking up on racism. “We’ve always drawn strength from diversity, welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world, and strived to build an Apple that is inclusive of everyone,” he said.
In a Tweet, Cook said, “We feel a duty to channel grief into action, and we hold to the hope that a single soul may yet change the world.” He also made reference to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr as he said that “the negative peace which is the absence of tension is no substitute for the positive peace which is the presence of justice.”
“As long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention,”said Dr. Martin Luther King.
Mark Zuckerberg took to his own platform to express the grief that the entire country is facing. “The pain of the last week reminds us how far our country has to go to give every person the freedom to live with dignity and peace,” he said.
Zuckerberg said that Facebook would be donating $10 million to the cause to groups working on abolishing racial injustice. But, like Pichai, Zuckerberg understands that donations aren’t going to cut it and that it is an issue that requires “sustained, long-term effort.” Facebook will also continue their work with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which has in the past gathered around $40 million annually in investments for organisations.
“This week has made it clear how much more there is to do. I hope that as a country we can come together to understand all of the work that is still ahead and do what it takes to deliver justice,”said Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
Amazon is another company that is donating $10 million to organisations who are in the search for change and who support “economic opportunities, education, and justice for Black Americans.”
On its online marketplace, Amazon released this message: “We believe black lives matter. We stand in solidarity with our black employees, customers and partners, and are committed to helping build a country and a world where everyone can live with dignity and free from fear.”
“There is no place for hate and racism in our society. Empathy and shared understanding are a start, but we must do more,” said Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella.
Microsoft voiced its support for its Black and African American community by posting a thread of messages from some of its employees:
“All I’m asking from you, from anyone, is honest, intentional, internal consistency. Think about what that means to you before you commit to a course of action.”
“Until there is justice for all, there isn’t justice at all.”
In support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Twitter changed its profile picture to a black bird instead of its usual blue and a fully black backdrop. The BlackLivesMatter hashtag was also added to its bio with a link to its diversity page.
This difficult period of time is not about “all lives”, it’s about the Black community and their lives. The US has long been home to the systematic racism that has deprived Black communities of their rights in all aspects of life. Privilege is not a myth, it is very real, and it’s important now more than ever to stand up for what’s right by using the platforms we have to speak out, show support and fight back against racial injustice. It is normal to be feeling anger, sadness and fear…but you are not alone. In diversity there is unity and in numbers there is strength.
Listen to the below podcasts for discussions on racial and social injustice:
To make a change, visit http://www.equalityinstitute.org for 8 actions you can take today.