There are defining moments in our personal and collective history that capture our attention in an unexpected manner—a moment that sheds light on what has been lurking in the shadows. Such is George Floyd’s tragic death. How grateful we are to Darnella Frazier, a seventeen-year-old Minnesotan, whose courage and presence of mind captured the inhumane treatment inflicted by a local policeman upon this Black man. Eight minutes and forty-six seconds is a long time and yet how fragile the moment is. It might have passed quietly, escaping our notice and horror. Thankfully, it has not. Rather, we are hopeful that George Floyd’s death will be the very catalyst that finally tips the scale of racial injustice in our country.
There have been many voices and names that have gone before, but George Floyd’s death has somehow reached further into the psyche of White America, leaving many to (rightfully) ask the question, “Why are we still here?” How is this our reality one hundred and seventy years after the Civil War and fifty plus years since the Civil Rights Movement? These are questions White America can and must answer and be accountable for. Perhaps the four officers on the scene are symbolic of the broader country. One aggressive, cold hearted individual surrounded by three silent and indifferent observers. White America has been silent and indifferent for too long. We’ve lacked the empathy and interest to understand the common experiences of Black people each and every day in America.
We are a small technology company headquartered in Portland, OR—one of the whitest cities in America. Our team is largely White and we have work to do in that regard, but first we must embark upon a deeper work as individuals and as an organization to examine where the cultural forces of systemic racism are perpetuated in our hearts. We are determined to create and foster a truly safe and inclusive workplace of equal opportunity. That’s why we are currently vetting options for anti-racism and anti-bias education and training for all our people. We are proud of our employees who have joined others in peaceful protest and we will endeavor to self-examine and alter all aspects of our corporate life and culture to stand with people of color everywhere. It is sad and unfortunate this cause has taken so long to find sufficient ground in the hearts and minds of the silent White majority—may we awaken from our slumber and be swift and thorough in our response. If not now, when?
- Peri Pierone, Eleven CEO