I am writing this post to assert why I believe — All Lives Matter but Black Lives Matter First and they matter now – not tomorrow, not after the November ballot.
As an immigrant from India over two decades ago, my desire to come to the U.S. was driven by a few distinct images – one being astronauts breaking the limits of space and another of the Statue of Liberty – a land where it seemed anything was possible for everyone. As a brown woman, immigrant, and entrepreneur, I thought I knew first hand what discrimination means and feels like but the brutal killing of George Floyd and ensuing protests has changed my perception. By no means can my struggles be compared to what Black men and women in our community experience each day. I have not lived the fear of losing a dear one, every time they step out of the house. We are talking about ‘Systemic Racism and Brutality’ and not just about bias against black people in the United States, where one needs a poster or people have to gather during a pandemic to say ‘Our lives matter’. It is for this basic reason that I believe Black Lives Matter first and foremost.
My company, Zūm, is ultimately rooted in a dream for societal progress by creating unlimited possibilities for our next generation. We provide safe and reliable rides for our children on our technology platform. We primarily serve public schools. The core of what we do is consciously targeted towards improving equity in our public school system – it is the foundation of our offering, not a check-the-box exercise or an unintended by-product.
While we endeavor to achieve our mission, I have decided to take action to demonstrate that Black Lives Matter to us at Zūm. Here are 5 actions that Zūm will take immediately:
- We will add a member of the Black community to our company advisory board and our customer advisory board.
- We will launch a Diversity & Inclusion talk series to foster empathy and awareness in our employees. We will invite diverse leaders including Black members of the communities we serve, from every walk of life, to interact with our team once a quarter and share their personal experiences.
- This November, Election Day will be a company holiday at Zūm. We encourage all our employees to vote as lasting change will come through the electoral process.
- Although Zum is already a very diverse team, we will review our hiring policies and put a concerted effort into sourcing and hiring from the Black community at all levels of our organization.
- We believe true awareness comes by experiencing causes first-hand. We will institutionalize a policy where employees can take paid time off one day a year to work with BLM and other community-related organizations that promote equal treatment of people under the law.
This is our beginning. It may not be perfect but ‘to commit and act is far better than staying quiet’.
Today’s ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement has been fueled by the sacrifices of many and it is important that we support it. We all need to put the issue front and center and not dilute it by talking about equality in general. This is a fight against ‘Systemic Racism and Brutality’ against the black community. Let us keep focused. Let us fight wholeheartedly for Black lives!
Godspeed to the activists and peaceful protests around the world!
A simpler, less emotionally-charged analogy I came across recently on social media sums up my point.