Silence isn't OK: Black Lives Matterpersonal world-event
I haven’t ever used this site to post anything about my political beliefs. I’m compelled to right now, because of what is happening in my adopted home country.
In a time where a great leveller has impacted everyone’s life, where circumstances beyond our control have impacted an aspect of everyone’s plans - we couldn’t use this time to unite and have compassion for all humans. The outrage at events in Minneapolis has spread across the US - and rightly so. In doing so, it has brought a major issue in our society to the fore. We shouldn’t need reminding that people should not be treated differently based on the colour of their skin, but it is something that our society has quietly chosen to sweep under the carpet, and ignore. It shouldn’t need to be explicitly stated, but it is essential that we say it out loud, and repeat it: Black Lives Matter.
Why am I posting this? Here are a few of the things that I believe, that I want to explicitly state - as food for thought. I do not claim that these are novel ideas - they’re not. I don’t claim they are ideas that everyone will agree with. I just ask that you spend a little time thinking about them.
- We all must recognise our unconcious bias. This is something that I’ve learnt in a professional context, but haven’t been as concious about applying in a personal one. Identify yours, recognise them, conciously act to address them. You’ll learn something about yourself in doing so. I continue to.
- There is more that we can do. There are many statements that can be made here — try to understand what being anti-racist means, understand a different perspective, speak out, act locally and ensure that you’re part of longer-term change. This will be a real focus for me over the next few months.
- Assume that your fellow humans are fundamentally well-intentioned. I’ve seen many absolutist statements condeming those that are choosing to protest (full-disclosure, I did). Many people may feel that it is more important to address deep-seated injustices than safeguard their own health. There will be those that do not - or are not in a position to make this choice. Try and understand why people make these choices, don’t simply condemn them.
- The technical community, in general, is hugely privileged. I am part of a group of people who is very lucky, I get to pursue something that I love to do, in a stable context, in companies that have afforded me the opportunity to move continent and see a diverse range of places on Earth. It is frustrating to me to see members of the technical community who don’t seem to recognise that we’re in this position. Recognise your privilege — it’s important to remember that not everyone has the same position as us. Through the pandemic, unemployment has hugely increased - many people are finding it hard to just live. Empathise, and support these folks where you can.
- Now is not the time to stand-back and admire the technical community’s work. Yes, the Internet as an innovation has kept many people in touch through this pandemic, and yes, this is something that we can be proud of. Let’s keep that in perspective, these times are not happy ones. There will be an opportunity to dwell on our impact in the future, now is not it. Let’s not be happy with what we’ve already done, and focus on how we can help our society cope with difficult circumstances. Once this is over, we can step back, and like those on the medical front-lines admire how we dealt with a difficult situation, and consider what our industry’s future aspirations are.
This is a hard time. Everyone’s mental health is being challenged by changes that they have been forced into making. Let’s try and look out for one another - and use this opportunity to pull together and make meaningful change where we need it most.