It’s been over a week since George Floyd was murdered, three weeks since Breonna Taylor was shot in her home, and about a month since Nina Floyd was stabbed to death in Mississippi. People have had enough and are taking to the streets to demand police reform and systemic change.
Naturally, organizations are being brave and addressing racism and civil unrest through social media posts. And in case you were wondering, most companies don’t support racism.
“We’re not perfect, but we’re listening.” — America’s CEOs
I don’t hate an earnest leader. I am even inspired by Oren Frank of Talkspace who is pulling out of a deal with Facebook because he doesn’t support a platform that incites racism, violence and lies. But I’m skeptical of corporate bandwagons—even well-intentioned ones. So, I’m following my instincts as a writer and making space for the story to unfold.
What does that even mean? I’m in listening-mode and practicing non-optical allyship. It goes like this:
• De-center yourself from the story.
• Be quiet and let others speak so you can learn.
• Don’t just demand change on social media, demand it in real life.
• If you can do it safely, demonstrate.
• If you can’t, donate.
• Above all, vote.
You and your company could try it, too.
When and if this country makes progress on racism and discrimination, it won’t be because a brand or an HR blogger jumped on Instagram and quoted a civil rights hero. Change will come through the hard work of people who have greater wisdom and understanding than me. It’s my job to hold myself accountable, practice good citizenship, and get the hell out of the way.
But in case you were wondering where I stand on racism and civil unrest, I’m with Tim Cook:
This is a moment when many people may want nothing more than a return to normalcy, or to a status quo that is only comfortable if we avert our gaze from injustice. As difficult as it may be to admit, that desire is itself a sign of privilege. George Floyd’s death is shocking and tragic proof that we must aim far higher than a “normal” future, and build one that lives up to the highest ideals of equality and justice.
It’s great to know where Apple (and Laurie Ruettimann) stands, but it’s time to hear from experts with smart ideas on dismantling racist systems, de-escalating conflict, and winning and losing trust with underrepresented communities.
Let’s make space for them.