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Andrew Hedges for The Collab Lab

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Black Lives Matter

I published a post to The Collab Lab’s internal Slack team on Sunday, but considering the events of the last couple of days wanted to take the step of taking the message public. It’s nothing profound, simply an expression of support for the amazing people who contribute to and take part in the programs of our little nonprofit.

To make it fully explicit, we at The Collab Lab believe that Black lives matter. We are anti-racist. We acknowledge the many ways that privilege has benefited many of us. We are committed to doing everything we can to lift up the people who come to Collab Lab looking for that next bit of experience that might mean the difference between finding that foothold in tech or not.

If you have the means, consider donating to organizations fighting for justice for Black people. You can also educate yourself, patronize Black-owned businesses, etc. Here is an excellent compilation of aligned organizations and businesses.

@channel I just wanted to take a minute to acknowledge what’s going on in the world at the moment. I was born 17 days after Dr MLK, Jr was assassinated. That summer of ’68 saw massive protests including surrounding the Democratic National Convention. Yep, like 2020, 1968 was also an election year and Richard Nixon ended up being elected President. 😐

So little has changed in the last 50 years, I feel more sad and disappointed with my country than I ever have. As if the pandemic wasn’t enough, we’re seeing (mostly) peaceful uprisings by the American people being violently suppressed by police who have transformed themselves into armed militias and are acting not to serve and protect, but to destroy and intimidate.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (former NBA star for the LA Lakers) started life as Lew Alcindor and changed his name partly as a result of the unrest in the late 1960s. He’s written an incredibly thoughtful piece that might be helpful in putting some context around what is going on.

I know many of you are feeling a ton of strong and probably at times contradictory feelings about everything happening in the US and the world at the moment. The Collab Lab is a community and we will do everything we can to support each other through all of this.

We exist to right inequities in the tech industry. I see that as directly connected to the larger issues of social justice that are playing out right now on our screens and in some cases in front of our houses.

Be safe. Be strong. No justice, no peace. ✊

Top comments (6)

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leob profile image
leob

The sad thing is that after more than 400 years (first black person brought to North American soil as a slave) so little has been learned, healed or put right. That's a lot of time wasted and a lot of misery and injustice prolonged, all of it dragging on indefinitely and seemingly unnecessarily. It could have been stopped but wasn't, because ... ?

Where are the sincere apologies from politicians and people in power for all the injustice and violence and the inability or unwillingness of the state and the government to protect the legal rights of those citizens? The state and the system let them down even though the constitution has all these pompous but apparently hollow principles like "all men are equal" - in reality these were meaningless.

Structural change, reparations and profound apologies are what need to be a top priority for the next president and the next government of the US. After all those centuries that's late, but it's never TOO late.

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8ucik profile image
8ucik

I do strongly agree with you, but I do have some concerns about. Let me tell this using some stories which happened in recent years but before covid started. My wife is an accountant in a big company in my country. The delegates from other countries sometimes visit them. They had people from US. Mostly black people (don't want to sound as racist, cause I don't know what is the best word to use here instead, I'm sorry if it sounds wrong ). arrived. They had some meetings, coffee and cookies stuff and then a big party before they were going back home. There was a guy hitting to my wife - she responded: "sorry I can't go out with you I have a husband and I am not interested, sorry." Then he started hitting another girl and another. I know all of those colleagues of my wife and they all are engaged or married. But what has happened next was thrilling. He started to answer "bacause I'm black!?". This was something that got the ladies scared. The guy was angry and was really showing how angry he is. I was close by and stood up to him and told him to calm down I remember saying: "Sorry, please call down. We are normal people your really want to try with people who have families, kids, pets and babies?". The guy did calm down had a tea which we suggested to him and he talked with us slowly and then when I asked him to - he did apologize to those women he offended. This is how humans work and can't be changed but the thing with "bacause I'm black" is something I don't understand. If we put aside this talk then looking at others makes no difference in skin colour, or looks. I have asked several people with different skin or looks if they were to point why people are attacking them they would respond skin colour or national stuff. But looking at this example this is not true. They are people which act like everybody else and that is the thing people need to understand.

Another story from a good friend of mine. He was visiting the US. He met a girl a black girl and got a little close to staying there bacause of her. Her parents said bad things to him, her friends liked him, but they couldn't live there why? Because he was white. That is the only reason. Non of them looked at him because of the character he had but because he was white. I know that they are now in Netherlands ,but a bad taste stays.

It does not matter if your Black, White, Indian, Asian or Hindi. The problem is in people who are connected to such syntax and naming convention.

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leob profile image
leob • Edited on

I see what you mean about the guy who got rejected and said "because I'm black". I think it shows how much they have the feeling that they're always being discriminated against.

The other example shows that they are also able discriminate themselves ... of course it's a natural tendency of people to discriminate - we tend to like people who are "just like us" - same race, same gender, same age, same sexual orientation (straight/gay etc), same religion, and so on. Like attracts like, "outsiders" beyond our 'group' are often looked upon with suspicion ... "group think", probably we all do it even when we don't acknowledge or realize it.

But that's about personal behaviors and prejudices - I think that the big issue that we're talking about right now (with George Floyd and Black Lives Matter and so on) is not personal behavior but systemic racism, so structures and mechanisms built into society and into organizations (for instance the police force). I think that's what is at stake right now, not so much the racist mindset or attitude of individual people.

Regarding the discussion about whether this is an "American problem" or a 'world problem', in principle it's the latter but the US has a unique history with slavery, civil war, Jim Crow laws (segregation) and so on, which makes the problem probably a bit bigger and more urgent there.

So yes, I understand your remarks about the behavior of those individuals (which you rightfully criticize), but I think that's not the point of the demonstrations or of the Black Lives Matter movement - their point is that "the system" is wrong.

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jethrojm profile image
Jethro Moller (He/Him)

No justice, no peace.

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arcticspacefox profile image
ArcticSpaceFox

Damn I feel so sad reading that and I am not even american

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Thanks for posting this Andrew

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