What We’re Doing to Support Black Lives Matter at Coconut Software
The Black Lives Matter movement is picking up speed and gathering momentum – it is bringing to the forefront the systemic racism that has been wilfully ignored within our social and legal justice systems.
It’s a topic that we shy away from as Canadians: we often try to hide behind a veil of “niceness” that doesn’t accurately reflect our current state, not to mention our brutal history. We’ve seen and heard about horrible and violent acts of aggression against Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of colour carried out and built into the foundations of this country. We often fail to own up to it.
We don’t say “I can’t” because it’s hard.
We say “yes” because it’s an opportunity to explore and innovate.
We don’t make excuses.
Together, as a team, we get it done and do it right.
These are the steps we’ve already taken to uncover unconscious bias within Coconut and promote ongoing antiracism initiatives:
- Proactive outreach to the POC community to encourage feedback on how we can do better
- Administer a People of Colour panel to better understand their stories and what actions we can take as allies
- Lending library of antiracism books and learning resources for all Coconut team members to access
- Antiracism workshop facilitated by POC-led organization and include discussions around First Nations – Sessions completed with a 100% attendance rate (to be held annually)
These are the steps we’ve started to take and will continue to grow into the future:
- Banning the terms “whitelist” and “blacklist”, pivoting to “Allow list” and “Deny list” – immediately
- Ongoing review of the marketing imagery we use to ensure it’s inclusive – ongoing
- Priority to hiring a diverse workforce – ongoing with a view to create a formal Diversity and Inclusion program for recruitment and onboarding
- Engage with all team members to ensure we are creating a supportive and inclusive community of all races and cultures – ongoing
- Additional initiatives to support POC team members as we identify other ways to grow and improve – ongoing
What We’re Doing Moving Forward
Coconut Software is about People, Passion, and Performance. People are first for a reason, and we can’t condone the ongoing overt and systemic racism that all people of colour endure. As a company, we are especially reminded of this section of our manifesto recently and of our role in being active allies:
The biggest hurdle to change also happens to be the simplest – talking openly about racism. Honest conversation is the only way to question our own ideologies, assumptions, actions, and even passive thoughts – to own up to our own racism and have tough conversations with ourselves. So that’s what we decided to do at Coconut.
We are fortunate to have an open and empathetic team that understands the value of conversations. The Coconut team held an Antiracism Panel/Q&A to help us understand the day to day struggles that our Black colleagues face and how the non-POC team members can help impact positive change as allies.
We hear a lot about inexcusable acts of violence by authority figures toward people of colour. Those acts should not be ignored. The fact that so many people are rallying against this in their communities speaks volumes – our normal is not nearly enough.
What We’ve Done So Far
At Coconut we are encouraging a culture of allyship: a lifelong process that takes a lot of listening, work, and ongoing reflection. It’s an evolving process with no end state. An ally acknowledges the limits of their knowledge about other people’s experiences but doesn’t use that as a reason not to think or act; they do not remain silent but instead confront racist aggressions and microagressions while also seeking to help dismantle institutional discrimination as they encounter it. Ultimately, the role of an ally is to live in a way that challenges systemic oppression.
This may happen at the personal risk of experiencing some discrimination ourselves, but the importance of this experience and highlighting this oppression is key to impacting change. Importantly, being an ally entails building relationships with people of colour to gain an understanding of the struggle and to challenge non-POC individuals in their thinking about race. No one expects allies to have it all figured out – but deep commitment and non-complacency is absolutely necessary.
If you’re interested in learning more about allyship and would like to better understand how you can impact change, here are some fantastic resources compiled by the Coconut team to get you started. Remember: we’re all in this together.
- Priviledge Mental Model – http://www.resourcesharingproject.org/sites/resourcesharingproject.org/files/Addressing_Privilege_MentalModelForWhiteActivists.pdf
- Interrupting Racism Techniques – http://www.resourcesharingproject.org/interrupting-racism-technique
- 75 Things You Can Do – https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234
- How to Have Tough Conversations – https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/y3zvgv/how-to-talk-to-relatives-who-care-more-about-looting-than-black-lives
- Additional reading resources for antiracism homework – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hpub-jkm9cLzJWqZSsETqbE6tZ13Q0UbQz–vQ2avEc/preview?pru=AAABcpBHLxU*SkKxTQ3tEl7URvUjQLK2FA#
- Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
- Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
- A Terrible Thing To Waste: Environmental Racism And Its Assault On The American Mind by Harriet A. Washington
- From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America by Elizabeth Hinton
- Americana by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Films & Videos
- I Am Not Your Negro
- Whose Streets?
- LA 92
- Teach Us All
- Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise
- Why Coronavirus hits black people the hardest
- HOLLYWOOD via Netflix
- White Lies We Tell Our Children, Colin Stokes
- The Enduring Myth of Black Criminality, Ta-Nehisi Coates via The Atlantic
- How to Have a Voice and Lean Into Conversations on Race, Amanda Kemp
- The Future of Race in America (on The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander
- A Conversation with Black Women on Race, New York Times Op-Docs Series
- A Conversation with White People about Race, New York Times Op-Docs Series
- How Race Settled the Suburbs, Upworthy (Adam Ruins Everything)
- Equity vs Equality, Carneades
- Floodlines from The Atlantic
- 1619 from The New York Times
- Intersectionality Matters! from The African American Policy Forum
- Throughline from NPR
Instagram & Twitter Accounts
- Audre Lorde Project @audrelorde (Twitter) @audrelordeproject (Instagram)
- Black Women’s Blueprint @BlackWomensBP (Twitter) @blackwomensblueprint (Instagram)
- Color of Change @colorofchange (Twitter and Instagram)
- Colorlines @colorlines (Twitter) @colorlinesnews (Instagram)
- The Conscious Kid @consciouskidlib (Twitter) @consciouskid (Instagram)
- Equal Justice Initiative @ejl_org (Twitter and Instagram)
- The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights @civilrightsorg (Twitter and Instagram)
- Showing Up for Racial Justice @ShowUp4RJ (Twitter) @showingupforracialjustice (Instagram)
- Sistersong @sistersong_woc (Twitter and Instagram)
- United We Dream @unitedwedream (Twitter and Instagram)
- Rachel Cargle @rachel.cargle (Twitter and Instagram)
- Osheta Moore @oshetamoore (Instagram)
- Layla F. Saad @laylafsaad (Instagram)