Today is Juneteenth. It has several "also known as" names, including "Freedom Day", "Jubilee Day", and "Liberation Day". It is a commemoration of Union army general, Gordon Granger, announcing federal orders in the city of Galveston, TX, on June 19, 1865, proclaiming that all slaves in Texas were now free. This was essentially bringing the Emancipation Proclamation to the remotest area of the United States were slavery was still being practiced (even though most slaves were freed more than 2 years prior). Slavery itself wouldn't actually be abolished until the ratification of the 13th Ammendment to the Constitution on December 6, 1865.
Just over a week ago we had an all hands at ServiceNow. I'm sure these types of gatherings are happening all over the country, at various companies, to address what is happening within our country.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was arrested and detained for allegedly passing a counterfeit bill. As he was being detained, his life was taken by Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis Police Officer, who knelt on his neck, with his hands in his pockets, for over 9 minutes, while George Floyd stated he could not breathe and asking to have his neck released. If you haven't seen the video, before you read anything else, you need to watch it.
Your Silence is Violence.
I wish I was able to share the video that our ServiceNow media team put together as it affected me deeply. It was supposed to affect me deeply. I condone the protests that are sweeping our nation. I condemn rioting and looting in the name of those protests. To me, they are completely separate issues, and one does not invalidate the other. It is important not to lose the message, and the issue, here: Black Lives Matter. Full stop. There is no response to that statement other than, "yes", "I agree", "I'll help", or "I want to learn more". No one is saying, "only black lives matter". By responding with something as tone deaf as "all lives matter", you're attempting to shift the conversation away from the issue. That issue is "Black Lives Matter". Don't shift the conversation because it makes you uncomfortable. Don't shift the conversation because something else is more important to you. Any shift away from the issue weakens the cause, and that cause is just.
As part of our Juneteeth observation, ServiceNow gave all employees a choice: work as normal, or take time away from work and spend some of that time learning, trying to understand, and performing some self-reflection. I spent some time actively listening to a few videos (some of which were curated for us and recommended, some of which I found on my own). My favorites were:
My support of the Black Lives Matter movement is this blog post, and educating myself with the resources that have been made available to me. It's not much, but it's something. What's yours?