Editor’s note: This guest post is adapted from an email Design Jawn founder Liz Brown sent to Technical.ly responding to a request for comment. It is reprinted here with permission and appears as part of a series of short guest posts from local leaders on how they are addressing the issue of systemic racism with their organizations.
What is happening in our city is deeply saddening, but what has been happening to black communities for years upon years is unacceptable. We all need to do better. We need more leaders to step up to share their voices and their personal experiences with the community.
Looking to the future, I will continue to do the work that I do to make our innovation ecosystem a more inclusive and equitable one. I want to help others recognize that you can make something more diverse and accessible and still fail at making it equitable.
In the past few days it has become more clear to me that equity and justice need to be at the forefront of discussions when it comes to conversations about inclusive innovation. I am calling upon other leaders within the startup, tech, and innovation community to step up and make real, and visible, efforts towards having tough discussions and supporting underrepresented people, and more specifically black technologists, entrepreneurs, and STEM professionals within our community.
My advice to other leaders within our community is to:
- Actively listen, learn, and be empathetic to the reality that many of us black Americans face on a day to day basis.
- A seat at the table is not enough — Create a platform and structure for all voices to be heard.
- Create safe spaces for all — Take a step back to allow for those who are marginalized to gather and discuss their wants/needs/desires and then hear them out without taking it personally.
- Be proactive, not reactive — We should not wait for all hell to break loose before taking action.