Today (June 19, 2020), on Juneteenth, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and its tech initiative, PUSHTech2020 along with the UK-based Colorintech issue this call to tech leaders and companies to make pledge of commitment to secure justice for George Floyd and other victims of police killings, and align themselves with the quest for civil and human rights and the eradication of systemic racism from America’s institutions.The nation and the entire world are being rocked by the police lynching of George Floyd captured so tragically on video that has been seen by millions. Now with eyes wide open, the brutality of unjustified police killings against unarmed Black youth is opening the eyes of the world to systemic, institutionalized racism – exposing the deep wound of injustice and inequality embedded in the very soul of America: not just policing, but in employment and housing; in education and health care. Inequity is everywhere.
Rev. Jackson said,
“Racism is bone deep – we need major surgery, not just touch the surface but go deep to reclaim the soul of America. Now change is in the air and, more importantly, in the streets. New possibilities are open. America is called once more, led by the passion of a young generation more diverse than ever, finally to begin to address the racism that increasingly endangers us all.”
The whole world is watching.
Protests are erupting in every state in the nation, in every corner of the world. Black Lives Matter is the cry of the oppressed demanding an end to systemic racism, a call to fundamentally reform the police and other institutions, and demand for racial equality and economic justice.
The revolution IS being televised on social media platforms everywhere.
Dion McKenzie, founder of the UK’s Colorintech said, “The time is now for the tech industry to be transparent on racial inequality and meaningfully invest to solve the systemic issues that African Americans face. We don’t need empty words of support, we need progress.”
African Americans are facing a dual pandemic – Covid19 and rising racial injustice and inequality, the legacy of slavery that began in 1619 – African Americans suffer the highest levels of contracting and dying from Covid19 and the least access to health care; the highest levels of unemployment and loss of businesses; the highest levels lacking digital and technology resources for educational distance/remote learning.
How can tech leaders and companies join the fight against systemic, institutional racism? The PUSHTech2020 calls for tech leaders and companies to:
1. make Juneteenth and Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday formal company holidays;
2. make a public statement on the killing of George Floyd and your publicly announce your company’s commitment to combatting systemic racial injustice; and create an open source spreadsheet that track your company’s contributions;
3. make publicly reportable, transparent and direct commitments and contributions to tech-based, civil rights, and community institutions and organizations fighting for diversity, inclusion and equity in tech, to groups organizing around systemic racial injustice in society, and to public school districts in need of tech resources (hardware, software, curriculum, broadband access) to bridge the digital divide;
More than that, make your contributions transparent and public: (see Jack Dorsey’s #startsmall open source spreadsheet on his contributions;
4. set measurable and accountable goals, targets and timetables to appoint African Americans and people of color to your company’s Board of Directors and C-suite leadership; to revisit and commit to measurable recruitment, hiring, and promotional policies that expand African American representation in the workforce including the public release of your annual EEO-1 reports;
6. set measurable goals for expanding African American businesses participation in supplier diversity and corporate procurement contracts, including the public release of your spend with African American and minority businesses in your supplier diversity/small business reports;
7. provide expanded resources to your company’s Employee Resource Groups;
Numerous companies have called out systemic racism and announced pledges to support the Black Lives Matter movement and race equality organizations. Yet some five years after Rev. Jesse Jackson called on companies to release their diversity and inclusion data, few if any tech companies have made any measurable progress or impact regarding equitable and inclusive representation of African Americans and people of color at their companies.
“While these corporate announcements are welcomed, they must be transparent and measurable. They must be more than band-aids and marketing moves, and have some sustainable and transformational impact…and transparent.” said Pastor Joseph Bryant, Director of PUSHTech2020.
Juneteenth is a day that honors Black freedom and Black resistance, and centers Black people’s unique contribution to the struggle for justice in the U.S.,” declares the Movement for Black Lives. “This Juneteenth is a rare moment for our communities to proclaim in one voice that Black Lives Matter, and that we won’t tolerate anything less than justice for all our people.”
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor – sleeping while Black. Ahmaud Arbery – running while Black. Rayshard Brooks – dozing while Black. Trayvon Martin – shopping while Black. Tamir Rice – playing while Black. Oscar Grant – BART-riding while Black. And just recently, three black men found dead in Southern California, hanging from trees.
We hear the cries of the innocent and the pleas for justice in city after city, from family after family. Their Black lives matter. And their deaths summon us to act.
When George Floyd called out for his mother, he summoned all of us to stand up for justice, to keep breathing, and to demand, “get your knee of our necks.”
On Juneteenth, we were freed, but in 2020 we are still not equal. We cannot let this moment pass; we are moved to turn pain into power. Let’s go beyond dialogue and conversation and act, organize, change and as Rev. Jackson said, “fulfill America’s promise of equal justice under the law.” 8:46.