Black Lives Matter.

Many in the business community (especially the startup community, which tends to lean left on social issues) jump on these words in these times of civil unrest. I believe that many of us say them and share them on our media because we truly believe them and in the movement they stand for. In these moments, we as a community are agreeing that police brutality is categorically wrong, and that we should do what we can to fight systemic racism. We may even join the ongoing protests, donate to relevant causes, and vote out politicians we see as destructive to the possibility of racial equity in the US.

But what are we actually doing to fight these issues in our day-to-day lives? In order to maintain the energy and support that is being generated by the uptick in protesting, voting, and donating, we, especially as business leaders, need to consider how to keep this momentum going, so that we can continue to effectively support and uplift Black lives in our work. In other words, when the media shifts its attention elsewhere, how will we retain these convictions in the space where we can likely make the most meaningful, long-term difference (our workplace communities)?

Many in the startup world often see software as the “Great Equalizer”, giving voices and access to communities who have been historically underrepresented or marginalized. But more often than not, software tends to promote “equality” rather than “equity”.

Credit: Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire Credit: Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire

For those who aren’t familiar, this image is an oft-cited depiction of the difference between “equality” and “equity”. While equality strives to give people equal opportunities (which is a start), equity tackles systemic oppression on a much deeper level by seeking to subvert the historic inequalities in the first place.

For example, a city with a 24-hour metro system is providing equality to its residents, while a city with a free 24-hour metro system with 2x train frequency in its socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods (often transportation deserts with carless households) is providing equity.

Software is almost always focused on equality, not equity. Stripe may make it just as easy for Black-owned online businesses to set up payment processing as White-owned ones, but this does nothing to quell the systemic issue that it’s still way harder to get a small business loan or an angel investment as a POC than as a White business owner.

Learning how to best fight racism is a constant learning process, and we’re nowhere near perfect at Toucan. We think one way we might be able to help that will persist in our startup community is by fighting for businesses that are helping dismantle racial inequities. Two days ago, we saw that Justice for George Floyd (https://justiceforgf.com/) installed our Shopify app.

If you’re a business owner whose business is focused on some aspect of the Black Lives Matter movement or on working to dismantle racial injustice in some way, reach out to me at arjun@toucanai.com or via DM. I’ll make sure your business gets our highest tier of service for free. Toucan AI is here to support you in spreading your message to the widest possible audience. And whatever else you think I and the Toucan AI community can do to fight systemic inequities—please tell me. We are committed to learning and relearning ways to be engaged and active allies.

#blacklivesmatter #justiceforgeorgefloyd

Organizations to donate to:

National Bailout Fund: http://nationalbailout.org

NAACP Legal Defense Fund: https://www.naacpldf.org/about-us/

Black Lives Matter: https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/

Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB): https://www.cuapb.org/what_we_do

George Floyd Memorial Fund: https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

**

  • Arjun