We must end police brutality and racial violence. We must break systemic racism and the systems of oppression. We must dismantle white supremacy.
This systemic change needs to happen now. Injustice has gone on for too long—it is shameful to us as a people, as a democracy, and as a society holding to truths that should be self-evident.
As firmly as we stand behind these statements now, it took us too long to come forward with public support for our Black community. Over the past two years, we’ve taken steps to evolve our company’s historical culture of whiteness through inclusion initiatives driven by a multi-level, multi-disciplinary workgroup. But our initial paralysis in this moment of need is evidence that there’s still a lot left for us to do.
Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Nina Pop, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and so many others should still be with us today. We must ensure that the police officers who took Tony, Breonna, and George’s lives are brought to justice. We must also recognize the context surrounding this violence and start at the beginning, in 1619. The looting started long before our country’s founding. The system we have today is working exactly as it was designed, and technology is wielded to uphold that system. For centuries, it has reinforced inequality and harmed the Black community. As an agency working in design and technology, we recognize our place in the system and are committed to changing it.
There are so many ways to show up to make that change. As a start, here’s how Instrument is proceeding:
Culturally, we are creating space and support for our employees.
- We expect our employees to spot our failings and call them out, as some have done.
- We expect vulnerability from our entire community to have hard conversations.
- We expect our employees to use their craft and their voice to fight systemic racism in client work and elsewhere.
Fiscally, we are reprioritizing budget for anti-racist work.
- We are shifting our charitable giving to include matching for employee donations on an ongoing basis.
- We are redirecting budget toward training for our white and non-Black leaders and employees to learn about and understand systemic racism and the personal anti-racist work needed.
Organizationally, we must change.
- Our founders are committing to using their privilege to elevate, amplify, and fight for the voices and needs of the Black community.
- Our executive team is committing to more representation in leadership. In Portland, Black people make up 6% of the population. We will meet or exceed that number in both our company and our leadership team in 2021.
- As a company, we are committing to a sustained effort to achieve structural change. This means prioritizing the needs of our Black community and being held to account on our practices for equitable hiring, promotion, and pay.
Our expectations of leadership and their actions go beyond the walls of Instrument. They extend to the leaders of our cities, our states, and our nation. As a business with offices in Portland, Oregon and Brooklyn, New York, we make the following demands of our elected representatives, Mayors Ted Wheeler and Bill De Blasio:
- End the use of aggressive anti-protest methods.
- Create a new citizen task force to draft bipartisan legislation that will increase police accountability and address system-wide racial inequities.
- Reassess the budget, defund the police departments, and redistribute to social services focused on community wellbeing.
We will not stand any longer for funding a discriminatory justice system that focuses on mass incarceration and targeted brutality that takes the lives of Black people.
We’re in the grips of a pandemic that is shining a spotlight on racial and economic inequality. But racism is a much deeper sickness in America. The protests give us hope that there will finally be a proportionate response. We know we have a lot more to do for Instrument to be part of the end of a racist system. It means showing up with words and following them with actions.