A letter to the Benetech community
Below is an excerpt from a message I sent to Benetech staff in response to the latest tragic events in a 400-year history of violence and racism against the Black community. These events have caused great pain, anger, and protest in cities across the globe. Part of that message was specific to offering our employees support and a safe space to grieve, react, and process current events. However, since our work is centered on inclusion, equity, and justice, I wanted to share those thoughts with our larger community.
To achieve these aims, we must confront the systemic racism and discrimination that perpetuate inequity. The events of the past week were a wake-up call for the nation to re-evaluate the flawed systems that too many of us take for granted, and to listen to and empower those who have long been advocating for systemic change. We all have a part to play in building a more just and equitable future. In the spirit of transparency and openness, I invite you, our community of supporters, partners, and users, to join us in reflecting on the role of racial justice in all of the work we do together.
“Given the events in our communities that are continuing to unfold, I want to acknowledge that right now, today, and always, Benetech stands in solidarity with the Black community and against the systemic racism and violence that have caused so much pain, disparity and injustice, including last week’s murder of George Floyd.
There is no doubt that inequity disproportionately affects communities of color across all aspects of life, including education, human rights, employment, and poverty. As an organization that stands for inclusion, equity, and justice, Benetech must be vocal and continue to work toward systemic change as part of our charter in both the tech and social sectors.
I am proud of the commitment that our team makes every day to help empower communities and create positive social change. While true systemic change is hard, this is what is needed now, and what will impact generations to come.
Let’s take this important moment in time to look at our work and our partners’ work and make sure that we are living our truths with regard to how we serve all communities. We cannot advance our ideals if we do not also make a commitment to anti-racism and stand in solidarity with communities of color and all individuals and organizations who promote inclusion, equity, and justice across our society and around the globe.
For those of you who are looking for a tangible way to engage in and learn more about these issues and how they intersect with our work, I invite you to explore the work of these advocates, organizations, and writers:
- Follow black disability activists such as Vilissa Thompson, writer and #DisabilityTooWhite creator and founder of RampYourVoice, and Tinu Abayomi-Paul, writer and founder of #EverywhereAccessible & #DisabledBlackTalk
- Learn more about documentation for police accountability from fellow tech for human rights organization, Witness, and Berkeley Copwatch Initiative.
- Read. Many anti-racism syllabi have been circulating in the past week, and the Bookshare Collection Development team has put together extensive anti-racism reading lists for adults and for kids and teens.
This is not just about today, this week, or, sadly, even this lifetime. This is about the work we will continue to do that directly supports justice for people who are unfairly discriminated against and can’t live to their fullest potential. Thank you all for your work toward lasting, positive, social impact.“
Since I sent this original letter, members of the Benetech team have been active in sharing resources and opportunities to take action in support of racial justice. I am proud of our staff and their motivation to do right in the world each and every day.
Betsy Beaumon is CEO of Benetech. The excerpted message has been edited to remove references to internal resources and support systems.