Ghostery Juneteenth Statement
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Recent national events have unsettled the country and our consciences. These events have threatened – or rather, elucidated issues that have long threatened – the foundation of our civil society and the liberty of its people. For some of us at Ghostery, these events have a deeply personal significance when it comes to experiences growing up and navigating the job market, tech industry, and everyday workspace as a person of color. For all of us, they have been a collective call to action.
Racism is so deeply and historically embedded in our most fundamental political, economic, and social structures, that it has become normalized in many ways. We recognize that it is systemic to the industry we are a part of and the larger corporate-cultural bylaws to which we subscribe. We refuse to continue being part of the problem, as we inevitably were, in our silence on the Black Lives Matter movement. It is not enough to feel quietly uneasy watching social events unfold over a TV screen, or to go on a fleeting internet diatribe against racism, or to shake our heads in courteous disapproval as we watch our Black neighbor get stalked or shot because they “looked suspicious.” And it is a problem that it took something as shocking as nationally-broadcast police brutality against unarmed Black men and women, and a literal national movement to get many – us included – to seriously reflect and make a statement like this. But to the extent that we recognize this injustice, it is so much more crucial, so much more urgent that we say something today.
We thought long and hard about what to say. We deliberated how to word our statement, how to phrase the message sensitively. Some of us felt it frustrating to suddenly be confronted with the task of articulating certain deep-rooted, painful issues that have gone dismissed for the entirety of our lives into 1000 words. And we turned a full circle before we realized “sensitively” was the wrong approach. The truth is, speaking “inoffensively” is speaking dishonestly. The truth is, there simply is no way to talk delicately about a dreadful reality. Eric Garner is dead. Tamir Rice is dead. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, are dead. They are dead because of deliberate, state-sanctioned violence against people with black skin. And the truth is, it is embarrassing that we were even shocked. This type of violence is an everyday reality for members of the Black community, not just the victims named above, whose lives are forgotten because their deaths didn’t happen to make media waves (or went unreported). These Black lives mattered. We need to be real in saying so, just as their deaths were real in their violence and permanence.
So let’s be real. Systemic racism against Black people exists. It manifests in many ways, one of the most egregious being rampant violence sanctioned by the state, often in the form of police brutality, against Black victims, and the subsequent failure to deliver justice to white perpetrators.
Our country so proudly boasts of “freedom” and “equality,” yet fails to protect the most basic civil liberties of its constituents. This is unacceptable. We cannot boast freedom nor equality if we do not recognize that Black lives matter. We cannot skirt around the issue with straw-man arguments or straw-man counter-movements, when we have not recognized that Black lives matter.
We at Ghostery strive to be defenders of the people. Our company vision centers around the empowerment of individuals. Our work is to offer transparency, safety, and agency on the internet so that these individuals may have power over what is rightfully theirs, and to prevent victimization by authoritative actors. We do not feel comfortable claiming ownership of these company values if we do not also carry out their most fundamental application in physical society – including the empowerment of Black individuals and the recognition and safety of black bodies, for starters.
We know that publicly making a statement is only the first step. Words have power, exposure has power – but power validated only if it leads to change.
In a team meeting this week, Ghostery employees discussed what we can do as individuals, as a team, and as a company to turn this statement into action and apply the lessons we have learned. The BLM movement has also, very importantly, shed light on and opened discourse into the struggles that people of color and many other minority groups regularly face. Thus in addition to specifically supporting the BLM movement, we also considered what we can do to fight systemic discrimination as a whole.
As individuals, we will listen and educate ourselves on the issues faced by people of color in life and in the workplace. We will ally ourselves with people of color and participate in social movements that empower them.
As a team, we will craft products that embody our stated values, and be conscientious of inclusivity in our UX practices. We will organize a dedicated committee that includes people of color to continue discourse on issues of discrimination.
As a company, we will actively recruit team members and mentor students from underrepresented communities, and be conscientious of any subtle discrimination that may arise in the hiring process. We will mandate diversity training for all employees. We will officially observe Juneteenth as an occasion to reflect, honor, and educate. We will make a pledge to financially support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Black Lives Matter. Completely, unquestionably, unapologetically. Our only regret is not speaking out sooner.
Take care of yourselves, and take care of each other.
Resources for learning more about the Black Lives Matter movement and the topic of discrimination:
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