We would like to take a moment to address the devastation happening in our country right now. As we’ve seen throughout history, the U.S. is perpetuating the systemic oppression of the Black community. It has failed to protect many Black Americans – including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others – and we cannot and will not continue to let this happen.
To our Black community, we recognize the acts of injustice against Black Americans. We stand with solidarity to fight against racism, police brutality, and the historical oppression of the Black community.
In response to the current events, NewsCred’s CEO Shafqat Islam shared a strongly worded message in his latest Sunday Night Thoughts email – a weekly, internal email shared with the entire NewsCred team. As we value transparency, racial justice, and human rights, we would like to share his message with you:
“NewsCred Fam – I wish I didn’t have to write this email. It’s going to make some people uncomfortable because I’m going to speak freely and use words that may make you feel awkward.
I really really don’t want to write it. In fact, I didn’t want to write it the past four or five times I addressed this topic on SNT. It’s been four years since I first wrote about Black Lives Matter – SNT 14. We’re at SNT 210, and things have gotten worse, not better. I’ve sent nearly 200 weekly emails and the situation in this country has not changed. I’m tired and sad and angry. But that doesn’t matter. Because I’m not Black in America. No amount of tiredness or sadness or anger will compare to what being Black in America feels like.
Let’s talk plainly. We live in a racist society. We do not live in a country (or world) where all people are treated equally. If you’re Black in America, you are treated differently from birth. And we’re not just talking about systematic inequality when it comes to opportunity. Or pay inequity. Or lack of diversity in the workplace. Or the fact that Black people represented a hugely disproportionate amount of COVID-19 deaths. Those things all exist and are problematic, of course.
But being Black in America means lack of basic civil and human rights. Hell, it means your life means less than the lives of white people or even other people of color. Just think about that. It’s 2020 in America, and we live in a society where the color of your skin does not afford you access to life’s basic freedoms or liberties. In fact, if you are a Black man in America, you are not guaranteed a life. I thought mass incarceration was bad. But Black boys have no guarantee that they will grow up to be men. And Black men and women are still being lynched. In 2020.
And so people are angry. I don’t condone violence, but I can empathize. We didn’t listen to Black people when they protested peacefully. We didn’t listen or change when they marched. When they sang. When they kneeled. So, of course they’re angry. How many more Black men and women need to be lynched before we’ll listen or do something about it?
So what do we do? Firstly, we can’t be passive. Willful ignorance is racist. Paying lip service to these issues is racist. Not speaking out is racist. Not calling out ‘socially acceptable’ racism (i.e. jokes, hiring discrimination, and all of these examples) is racist. “I’m not racist” is not a thing. You’re either racist, or you’re anti-racist. And as a people and a company, we need to be anti-racist. If we are silent on matters of injustice, we are on the side of the oppressor. I truly believe that whatever affects one of us directly, affects all of us indirectly.
1) That starts with listening and understanding. And learning. And we should not make it incumbent on Black people to educate us. We need to do it ourselves. Start at the list at the bottom of this email.
2) Secondly, we must take action as individuals. Speaking out and taking action every chance we get. Whether it’s joining peaceful protests, to doing the small things – calling out any subtly racist remarks or jokes that we used to let slide. Calling out every inequality we see. How many of you cross the street when you see a black man or a black homeless man at night and then convince yourself “that wasn’t racist.” Well, it’s racist and we must stop. There are subtly racist things we do in our everyday lives because we have been brought up and live in a racist society that has racism institutionalized in every aspect of society. So let’s personally note all of these things and stop, and call out others.
3) Thirdly, as a company, we need to do better. If you’re Black at NewsCred, we acknowledge your pain and suffering. We don’t expect you to come to work on Monday and go through your day as if things were normal. They are anything but normal. Please take as much time that you need – and don’t feel like you need to cover up your pain or anger. You should be angry. And as a company, we need to do better to aggressively hire a more diverse workforce. We’ve talked about it, but our results simply aren’t good enough. We said we’ll go and recruit from historically black colleges, but we haven’t done it proactively. We’ll fix that. As a company, we should double and triple-check that we have no pay inequity based on race. And as a company, we should and will make material donations to the initiatives that are trying to fix the systematic issues in our country. Black Lives Matter. Equal Justice Initiative. Black Girls Code. I’ll commit that for every dollar NewsCred gives to any other cause, we will always match it 1:1 to one of these nonprofits fighting for equality and justice. This is on top of our direct donations to these causes. I’ll commit the direct amount next week once I know, but it will be more than any other cause we’ve donated to because it’s the most important.
4) If you are White, acknowledge your White privilege. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have hardship or haven’t faced hardship in your life. It just means your skin color isn’t the thing making it harder. And for those of us who enjoy other kinds of privilege, it’s the same. We are lucky and have the odds stacked in our favor – often for years or decades (really its hundreds of years). We must all use the privilege for good and for change. No time for passive prayers. It must be active and we must lead in the dismantling of the racist society we have built and lived in.
5) Finally, we must show love. Everything listed above is about the truth. Learning the truth, admitting the truth, and then doing something about it to change the truths of our society. But combatting those truths requires love. Love that is active, driven by action, relentless, and equal for all peoples.
It may feel daunting. How can I personally create a more just and loving and equal society? But I do know that I can play a more proactive role in creating that society. It starts with me. And my family. And our company. We have a responsibility and an obligation.
To my Black brothers and sisters reading this: I am so, so sorry. I cannot begin to imagine what it feels like to walk in your shoes. But I am sure it hurts. And I will walk with you and carry you when your feet hurt. And until we can walk side by side, completely equal, we will not relent or stop fighting for you and with you.
Much love to every single one of you at NewsCred.
In an effort to support the Black community and combat racial inequality, NewsCred will be collecting and matching donations for 10 organizations ranging from the ACLU to the Equal Justice Initiative from members of our community. Please support our efforts by donating through our BrightFunds’ Racial Justice Fund link.