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Tech giants condemn racial discrimination, George Floyd death

By , ITWeb senior news journalist.
Africa , 02 Jun 2020

The CEOs of Facebook and Snap have become the latest technology execs to speak out against racial inequality and police brutality in the US, joining tech giants IBM, Google, Apple and SpaceX, among others.

The CEOs of US-headquartered tech giants have condemned the brutal murder of George Floyd, with some committing to donate millions to organisations that support racial justice and equality.

The 46-year-old Floyd died last week after being restrained by Minneapolis police, sparking widespread protests across the US and other countries, including the UK, Canada and Italy.

A newly released autopsy report declared Floyd's death a homicide, with the cause of death described as "asphyxiation from sustained pressure", according to Forbes.

In a social media post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg yesterday announced the social media giant stands with the black community – and all those working towards justice in honour of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and “far too many others whose names will not be forgotten”.

To help fight racial discrimination, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, driven by his wife Priscilla Chan, has invested $40 million annually over several years, in organisations working to overcome racial injustice, noted Zuckerberg.

“Facebook is committing an additional $10 million to groups working on racial justice,” he wrote.

“We're working with our civil rights advisors and our employees to identify organisations locally and nationally that could most effectively use this right now. I know that $10 million can't fix this. It needs sustained, long-term effort.”

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk also weighed in on the matter on Twitter, calling for all police officers involved in Floyd's death to be charged, after the announcement that only one of them faces arrest.

Economic inequality

Various cities in the US are still reeling from the sometimes violent public demonstrations where protesters are condemning the deaths of black people at the hands of police and racial inequality in the country.

On Monday, US president Donald Trump threatened to deploy thousands of federal troops if state and city governors don’t act to combat the violent unrest, which had also taken place outside the White House.

Meanwhile, Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snap, the company which owns Snapchat, stated in an internal memo that he is heartbroken and enraged by the treatment of black people and people of colour in the US.

“For nearly 30 years, I have personally witnessed or participated in the passionate and persistent, well-reasoned, and forceful appeal for justice in America and around the world.

“Thirty years later, despite a chorus of millions calling for change, there is little to show in the way of progress.”

Economic inequality in the US, added Spiegel, has reached levels unseen for nearly a century, where “people of colour cannot visit a grocery store or go for a jog without fear of being murdered without consequence, and put simply, the American experiment is failing”.

A list of other Silicon Valley executives had previously echoed their sentiments on racism in the US.

In a memo obtained by Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that while he’s seen progress since the America he grew up in, communities of colour continue to endure discrimination and trauma.

“Apple is making donations to a number of groups, including the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit committed to challenging racial injustice, ending mass incarceration, and protecting the human rights of the most vulnerable people in American society.”

For the month of June, Apple has pledged to match two-for-one all employee donations via Benevity, acharitable donation-management platform.

Twitter, which was at the centre of a fight with Trump over its actions on his tweets, has updated its bio to #BlackLivesMatter and its blue bird logo has been transformed into a black avatar.

The social media platform also retweeted a post from Twitter Together, which stated: “Racism does not adhere to social distancing.”

According to Reuters, IBM and Netflix have also condemned racial inequality, while Google and YouTube’s Web site homepages have been updated with a notice that reaffirms the companies’ support of racial equality.

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