Many people in this “modern world” discriminate or prejudice against other people based on colour, race, caste or religion whereas not even a single human on this planet has the smallest of control over his/her skin color – black or white, race ,caste or religion .
“The actual skin color of different humans is affected by many substances, although the single most important substance is the pigment melanin. Melanin is produced within the skin in cells called melanocytes and it is the main determinant of the skin color of darker-skinned humans .”
Black Lives Matter
In the past couple of weeks we have seen many people around the world uniting over the tragic and shocking demise of a 46-year-old man of a distinct skin color named George Perry Floyd whose final moments were depicted in an onlooker’s video where a Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes with 3 other police officers holding down on his back and legs. George was seen warning the officer that he couldn’t breathe and cried out for his mother .
Floyd’s last words were “ I can’t breathe” and the only allegation he had was using a counterfeit $20 note at a convenience store .
It’s beyond my imagination to describe how I feel about the incident in words and my deepest feelings are with the Floyd family . But today i want to make a point that not just George Floyd but racism in any form has a much deeper roots than we think and police brutality is just one type among many .
Incidents of racism linked to police brutality are seen across the globe. But especially in the United States , it is common for marginalized groups to perceive the police as oppressors. Mainly due to statistically disproportionate number of minority imprisonments ( for reference , watch the tv season – Orange Is The New Black ) .
Data released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics U.S (2011) showed that from 2003 to 2009 at least 4,813 people died while being arrested by local police. Of the deaths classified as law enforcement homicides, there were 2,876 deaths; out of those, 1,643 or 57.1% of the deaths were “people of color”.
More than just a slogan
Austria , Bangladesh , Belgium ,Brazil , Canada , Chile , Croatia , Denmark ,Turkey , United Kingdom and States are just few among many countries reporting increased cases of Police targets in recent times.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American emergency room technician in Louisville was killed at her home in March 2020 by police searching for a suspect in a drug case . Though investigations have started against the local police authority but it has sparked renewed protests . It also becomes our duty to stand by the communities and show support. While maintaining peace because breaking public property or burning cars won’t do justice to any of the victims .
We all need to make sure that the support is meant in the right direction, having long term impacts. Focused on the fact that the world shouldn’t see another Breonna or another George becoming victims of a pity belief named racism .
Listening to people other than of your social group. Creating a neutral workplace environment. Giving opportunities to everyone equally. Giving our time to people in distress – tutoring kids is a perfect example. Speaking up using creative talents instead of anger and supporting people irrespective of race are just few of many things.
How is Tech responding :
The technology industry has always struggled with diversity – with opportunities for men and women of color particularly limited. That has led many tech companies to release regular diversity reports, which have shown more or less a sluggish progress.
But in the past few weeks big tech companies such as Apple, Google and Microsoft have expressed support for protests sparked by the death of George Floyd across the globe. Especially in the U.S where there has been widespread condemnation of police tactics towards members of the African American community.
“While our laws have changed, the reality is that their protections are still not universally applied,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote on Apple’s website on June 4.
But like most Silicon Valley companies, the Cupertino giant has struggled to hire significant number of minority staff into its ranks. Especially for leadership positions.
One of the world’s biggest online retailer- Amazon said it will donate $10 million to racial justice initiatives. Including the NAACP, Black Lives Matter and the Equal Justice Initiative. Posting a message on twitter, the company said that “the inequitable and brutal treatment of Black people in our community must stop.”
For long Amazon has been criticized for its various ties to police and the US Defense Department. The American Civil Liberties Union has often called out Amazon. For its sale of facial recognition technology to law enforcement departments. Eventually leading to excessive surveillance of the public.
“Coming together as a community and showing support is important, but it isn’t enough,” – Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in an open letter to his team on June 3. He also pledged $12 million to organizations addressing racial inequalities.
The company also postponed a virtual event that would have taken place few weeks ago. Where the next version of its Android mobile operating system was set to unveil. But the event was delayed with respect to the protests, with Google saying, “now is not the time to celebrate.”
Google’s YouTube, the world’s most used video service, said it will pledge $1 million to the Center for Policing Equity. Google too has been criticized over diversity and work culture in the past .
Twitter and Facebook
Twitter and Facebook have long struggled with trollish and racist behavior. Hate speeches and harassment aren’t the only problems Facebook struggles with. The company recently struggled with the “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” remark Trump made on Twitter.
While Twitter flagged and removed the tweet by the U.S President on violence invoking grounds. Facebook chose to allow Trump’s remark to remain untouched on its site and on its photo sharing service, Instagram.
This lead to Facebook employees speaking publicly and criticising company’s policies against race and discrimination. Many senior employees even decided to take a day off and support the protestors. While many replaced their profile picture on Facebook’s internal network of employees with a twitter logo.
Later, Zuckerberg publicly shared a note to all the employees, saying he would review the company’s policies, including the ones involving Trump.
So far Microsoft has been amongst the few tech companies that has been pro-actively working for the cause.
Microsoft released its first diversity report in November 2019. The report showed the software giant had made some progress in its efforts to be more inclusive. But like many other companies it too has failed to make substantial gains. Just 4.4% of its 2019 workforce was black , 2.7% of its executives were people of color . Just like Apple, Microsoft’s voice recognition software has misidentified black voices.
When all these big names largely struggle to maintain diversity in their functioning. It becomes our responsibility to be more aware and vigilant in our approach and demand making a forever change in How The Big Tech Works.
That’s all in today’s edition of Updated. , see you in the next one .