All lives can't matter until black ones do. This week (and the weeks that come) are not "business as usual" at America On Tech (AOT). In full transparency, it has taken us a few days to write this post because the words to describe the way we feel at the moment are not easy to articulate. We have been attending virtual and community gatherings as part of our own grieving process.
What has happened to George Floyd, Christian Cooper, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless other black people are true depictions of violent acts against black people in our country. This is not new and should not be treated or acknowledged as such.
Our founders were in elementary school when the murder of Amadou Diallo happened. They were in high school when the killing of Sean Bell happened. When Eric Garner was murdered they were working in the private sector and conversations were (and continue to be) minimal around the hurt black people feel in response to these recurring events.
The black bodies we are seeing killed behind our computers, phones and in-person can at any point in time be the students, families, members of the community we are trying to serve, as well as AOT teammates.
Nothing that has transpired is OK.
If you don't feel normal, that is OK.
If you don’t have the words to express how you feel, that is OK.
… but taking action is REQUIRED.
AOT is not neutral on this matter and stands against racial injustice. AOT stands for freedom, justice, liberation and an equal opportunity at life. There is nothing un-American about that.
Our students, every day, are fighting against systems that oppress them. They do not have the privilege to choose whether or not to engage with how racial injustice is woven into the fabric of America. It is the dark, devastating reality that they look in the eye every single day. Their innocence gets stripped away before they even have the opportunity to dream of what they can be. The images of dead black bodies without justice sends them the message that no matter what they do or how hard they work, they are not safe or seen as equal.
We cannot expect to create pathways into the technology and innovation sector without acknowledging the very injustices that our students and communities face on a daily basis. We stand against racial injustice because we know that in order for us to create an equitable technology industry, we need to ensure the safety of our students' minds, bodies and spirits.
America On Tech is committed as an organization to ensuring that we are consistently assessing and addressing systems that affect our students, our communities and our team members. We are acknowledging that this is a consistent point of growth and we will not stop until we get it right.