- George Floyd was killed by a police officer who forcefully pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes straight.
- The senseless killing sparked a wave of protests against racial inequality and police abuse all around the country.
- Tim Cook on Sunday sent a memo to Apple employees addressing racial injustice and more.
The killing of George Floyd over Memorial Day, coupled with the delay to arrest and charge Derek Chauvin, set off a wave of mass protests across scores of major U.S. cities this past weekend. In the blink of an eye, issues of racial inequality and police abuse became national topics of conversation to a degree we haven’t seen in decades.
The Floyd killing, of course, didn’t occur in a vacuum and was preceded by the vigilante murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Atlanta and the recent video of a white woman in Central Park hysterically calling the cops and lying about being threatened by an African American birdwatcher.
Amidst all the recent turmoil, a number of companies this weekend issued statements expressing their support for protestors and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Netflix, for example, took to Twitter on Sunday and said:
To be silent is to be complicit.
Black lives matter.
We have a platform, and we have a duty to our Black members, employees, creators and talent to speak up.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has long been a champion of social justice, also addressed the issues at hand via an email sent to Apple employees. Cook’s letter, which was obtained by Bloomberg, can be read in its entirety below:
Right now, there is a pain deeply etched in the soul of our nation and in the hearts of millions. To stand together, we must stand up for one another, and recognize the fear, hurt, and outrage rightly provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd and a much longer history of racism.
That painful past is still present today — not only in the form of violence, but in the everyday experience of deeply rooted discrimination. We see it in our criminal justice system, in the disproportionate toll of disease on Black and Brown communities, in the inequalities in neighborhood services and the educations our children receive. While our laws have changed, the reality is that their protections are still not universally applied.
We’ve seen progress since the America I grew up in, but it is similarly true that communities of color continue to endure discrimination and trauma.
I have heard from so many of you that you feel afraid — afraid in your communities, afraid in your daily lives, and, most cruelly of all, afraid in your own skin. We can have no society worth celebrating unless we can guarantee freedom from fear for every person who gives this country their love, labor and life.
At Apple, our mission has and always will be to create technology that empowers people to change the world for the better. We’ve always drawn strength from our diversity, welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world, and strived to build an Apple that is inclusive of everyone.
But together, we must do more. Today, Apple is making donations to a number of groups, including the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit committed to challenging racial injustice, ending mass incarceration, and protecting the human rights of the most vulnerable people in American society. For the month of June, and in honor of the Juneteenth holiday, we’ll also be matching two-for-one all employee donations via Benevity.
To create change, we have to reexamine our own views and actions in light of a pain that is deeply felt but too often ignored. Issues of human dignity will not abide standing on the sidelines. To our colleagues in the Black community — we see you. You matter, your lives matter, and you are valued here at Apple.
For all of our colleagues hurting right now, please know that you are not alone, and that we have resources to support you. It’s more important than ever to talk to one another, and to find healing in our common humanity. We also have free resources that can help, including our Employee Assistance Program and mental health resources you can learn about on the People site.
This is a moment when many people may want nothing more than a return to normalcy, or to a status quo that is only comfortable if we avert our gaze from injustice. As difficult as it may be to admit, that desire is itself a sign of privilege. George Floyd’s death is shocking and tragic proof that we must aim far higher than a “normal” future, and build one that lives up to the highest ideals of equality and justice.
In the words of Martin Luther King, “Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.”
With every breath we take, we must commit to being that change, and to creating a better, more just world for everyone.
Incidentally, Cook a few days prior posted the following on Twitter:
Minneapolis is grieving for a reason. To paraphrase Dr. King, the negative peace which is the absence of tension is no substitute for the positive peace which is the presence of justice. Justice is how we heal.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) May 29, 2020