We are not posting some “boilerplate message,” but posting the INTERNAL email shared with our company from our CEO. No edits made (not even grammar or typos), no legal or HR approval, no corporate communication BS.
Subject: Challenging times here in Seattle and around the country
Ekata Team – I will be sending out our normal Weekly Update tomorrow. Given recent events, I felt a different message was warranted today.
I am sure everyone has seen some of the news coming from protests against systemic racism and violence against African Americans, as well as rioting/looting across the United States in the past few days. I personally was despondent this weekend. I don’t promise to have any answers, but I will try to provide some perspective, especially from our Seattle community here around Ekata headquarters.
I personally was in downtown Seattle at Westlake Center for the protests on Saturday with two of my kids from 3 – 4:45pm. It was my 14 year old daughter who insisted on being there “to do something” to make a statement about this horrendous killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis as well as the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others. In Seattle, there were 99% good folks down there peacefully demonstrating, listening to speeches, and desperately wanting to be a voice towards change. The organizers and speeches were calm, even-handed, indignant at times like they should have been – but most importantly everyone stressed peaceful and non-violent protests. The Seattle Police Department was also calm and not provocative.
There were a tiny handful of people who did deliberate acts of vandalism to cars and store fronts, and I have no doubt it was planned. One doesn’t bring a Molotov cocktail to a peaceful demonstration, and that kind of violence degrades the memory of George Floyd as well as the intent of the organizers of the protest. The mayor did the right thing by imposing a curfew each of the past two nights, as well as tonight. We cannot stand by while looting and violence is transpiring in our communities. Unfortunately the news cycle will focus more on burning cars, not some of the systemic issues that brought a couple thousand people downtown.
Instead of focusing on the news cycle, I would rather focus on what we can do here at Ekata to address systemic racism towards people of color and especially African Americans. We don’t have any place for racism here at Ekata with our team or with any customer or partner with whom we work. This theme aligns directly with our Operating Imperative of Engage in our Meritocracy. We value what people can accomplish here at Ekata, not the color of their skin, their gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. We look for, need, and value different viewpoints from people coming from very different circumstances and backgrounds around the world. A few other tangible items we call can do:
- Get out the vote, wherever you are registered to do so. Make darned sure you encourage every friend, extended family member, and acquaintance to do the same. Our elected officials at the local, state, and national legislatures, executive branches, and court rooms are a critical piece of systemic change.
- A couple of non-profits addressing these issues, vetted by the Gates Foundationm, where Ekata’s matching gift program can double your donation (we can list more of these organizations that you know of or want to promote by bringing to HR’s attention):
- NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund: fight for racial justice and seek equality for all Americans
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation: handle thousands of cases each year on behalf of clients whose rights have been violated by individuals and institutions
- Race Forward: catalyze community, government and other institutions to dismantle structural racial inequality
- Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law: secure equal justice for all through the rule of law
I want to mention one last item of critical importance. The fact that folks have been shut in for nearly three months and tens of millions of people in the US alone don’t know how they will make rent next month or buy groceries is an acute near term issue domestically and globally which is interwoven with what is happening on the streets of America today. We all need some empathy for those folks and the fear they have right now. The vast majority of who we all know are just working from home on a computer rather than having their lives and livelihoods in jeopardy. But the fear of not being able to pay your rent or feed your family is a deep-seated fear. In terms of the variables we can control, taking some small and voluntary steps here at Ekata towards getting the economy started in the coming months is one of those variables.
A few years ago I visited Washington, DC with my family. We visited many museums and memorials, but I will leave you with one of hope that seems particularly important today. It is inscribed on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Keep the faith out there,
One email is not enough to fight systemic racism. Uplifting and supporting those in our Black community takes real change, which takes collaboration and deep thought. We are taking this time to reflect and talk about ways we can improve as a company. It’s easy “to pay lip service,” but that’s not who we are at Ekata. Instead, we are coming together to build a plan for substantive change in our company and our community.
Thanks for reading.