🚨 What Happened on Black Lives Matter Twitter Last Week - May 31st
✊🏾 The WORLD marched together, 🚨 Looters took advantage, 🚨 Police brutality got put on display, ✊🏾 Tech stood in solidarity, 🙌 Some hope emerged, and more!
The tech industry is pro-future. We spend our time dreaming up and building products we believe will have the largest positive impact on the lives of the largest number of people by disrupting archaic or even corrupt systems. But change doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
What seems incredibly apparent today is that technology and activism twin sisters in this struggle to improve the lives of every day people. Without camera phones and Twitter, the George Floyd protests would not be what they are today. But without activist movements, Twitter would not positively impact the world nearly as much.
As a result, I wanted to share some quick highlights from the George Floyd protests last week instead of our usual tech programming.
✊🏾 The WORLD marched together
A social movement historian reflected that this is the first time in recent memory that there have been large-scale nation-wide protest for two weeks straight. What’s more is that this is now an international movement - as it should be.
The United States may have the most egregiously oppressive criminal justice system of any developed country, but European colonial history is also riddled with the horrors of the African slave trade.
This movement is now bigger than Minneapolis or the United States.
This was one of my favorite forms of protest, courtesy of the DC mayor:
🚨 Looters took advantage
While most protests have been peaceful, many have devolved into riots and looting. The National Guard and militarized police forces were deployed in many cities across the country to enforce curfews and quell the violence.
There’s been a lot of debate around the role of violent protest in movements like this. On one hand, violence is violence and committing injustices in the name of justice is counterproductive and delegitimizes the movement.
On the flip side, many have argued that while violent uprisings are indeed awful, they are proven throughout history to major catalysts of change.
Kimberly Jones, an activist and author, reiterates a point Trevor Noah made that when the body responsible for enforcing the law and keeping peace does neither, law is called into question entirely. It doesn’t so much endorse looting but rather reframes the question of if it even matters given the state of things.
🚨 Police brutality got put on display
Thanks to the fact that everyone now has the tools to capture and share video to millions of people around the world in seconds, missteps of police offers around the country were put on display.
I keep thinking about the Vietnam War, which was forced to an end after intense protests lead by young people seeing uncensored footage of the horrors of the war. We’re in a remarkably parallel time where uncensored video again is playing a huge role in galvanizing the public.
There are plenty of examples of police respectfully and safely executing their duties, but it’s the atrocities that this movement exists to end.
These videos capture a few of the worst moments since protests began:
Click into this one - it’s a full tweetstorm of videos.
Many many many more listed here.
✊🏾 Tech stood in solidarity
Companies and individuals issued statements and made donations. Andreessen Horowitz announced a new fund for founders from underrepresented backgrounds where 100% of the returns would be reinvested. It’s pretty on brand for the firm which already has more black partners than any other top venture firm as well as deep ties to the black community.
Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit, relinquished his board seat and told the board to nominate a black person to replace him. This would be an incredible move given that very few large tech companies have black board members that are not Chief Diversity Officers.
Also check out Bezos’ response to a customer who was upset to see “Black Lives Matter” on Amazon.com.
🙌 Some hope emerged
What seems to be true of any large group of people, whether it’s Patriots fans, wealthy people, or police, is that there are good people and bad people. There were a number of reminders this week that there are indeed a lot of good police officers. One of my favorite examples is the Houston police chief:
And the folks down in Atlanta:
Most importantly, a lot of progress was made as a direct impact of the protests.
And it likely won’t be the end of it.
👍 Other great tweets
Remember that inequality is a social problem as much as a policy problem. Find opportunities to impact change that are within your direct locus of control - that’s where we start. Keep fighting that good fight!