Together, we stand against racism.
James Baldwin once said, “American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” Part of what he was describing was the unjust duality that a Black person could be one of the first freedom fighters in the establishment of this nation, and yet centuries later, still be forced to tolerate an inequitable system that stymies their own freedom. Baldwin was also talking about how Black and Brown Americans make up the vast majority of essential workers taking care of Americans now and yet cannot enjoy the benefits of equality.
What happened last week with George Floyd’s murder was horrifying, especially after the tragic killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, especially after countless similar murders in recent years, especially seven years after the Black Lives Matter movement began. Justice is applied unevenly in this country, and it is especially absent for those with black and brown skin.
In no uncertain terms, Solstice firmly supports people who suffer injustice and advocate for their liberties. The Black community deserves better than the broken promises that have been inflicted on them in the last 400 years. They have endured enslavement, a rescinded offering of 40 acres and a mule, redlining policies that obstruct their ability to own a home or accumulate wealth, Jim Crow laws establishing racial supremacy as the law of the land, and a criminal justice system that has proven to be systematically biased against them. As a result of 400 years of racist policies, recent data demonstrates that communities of color are dying disproportionately from COVID-19 and health disparities so it is no wonder we now find ourselves in a feckless tinderbox.
In a functioning democracy, there is a social contract that exists between governments and their citizens. As citizens, we agree to endure some sacrifice and forego personal freedom in exchange for the benefits of equality and protection that are offered by the state. The social contract allows us to unite around the common good and create a community that is greater than the sum of our parts.
Langston Hughes wrote a poem in 1936 called “Let America Be America Again” in which he described the broken social contract that had been unfulfilled for Black Americans:
- Share anti-racism resources with all employees in the company and organize company conversations about the importance of anti-racism;
- Revise our mission statement and goals to incorporate racial inequality (in addition to the income inequality on which we already work);
- Begin tracking employee race data (in addition to the gender, national, and educational diversity data we track) in an effort to hold ourselves more accountable to increasing our share of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) employees;
- Investigate how to incorporate customer racial demographic data in our software (in addition to the socioeconomic data we track) in an effort to increase the share of BIPOC customers in our customer pool;
- Launch a diversity and racial justice committee to ensure our actions persist in the medium and long-term, rather than permitting this moment to be a flash in the pan;
- Grant up to 3 paid days off to Solstice employees that volunteer to get-out-the-vote in November for any local election campaign, because local voting is one of the most effective ways to reform racist policies.
Given the economic downturn, Solstice is unable to donate from company coffers to racial justice and criminal justice reform organizations at this time. However, the Solstice co-founders will be personally matching employee contributions to these organizations.
If there is one thing we have learned from working on inequality over the last four years, it is that unjust systems do not fix themselves. The incentive structures and power dynamics of the status quo are the greatest inhibitors to change. Reforming systems requires us to act over a long period of time with big and small actions alike, with deliberate intention and community organizing, even when it is inconvenient to do so.
Langston Hughes ended his poem with a firm belief that we could be successful in fulfilling America’s promise for all Americans. Solstice is committed to this outcome, and we are eager to partner with other like-minded individuals and organizations in pursuit of this vision. Because what we do today affects whether we have justice and peace tomorrow, and because we have a lot of work to do.
The Solstice Team