A Few Words

On George Floyd

Monday, June 8th, 2020 · 4 min read


What happened to George Floyd — and the many others killed by police brutality, discrimination, and injustice — is horrible. I condemn racism in all its forms.

These sentences should be easiest things in the world to say, yet I’ve hesitated to publish something online.

Because what does writing these words out even do?

Firstly, to say these words without thinking about what I could do to take action or changing anything about myself felt disingenuous.

Secondly, it’s been hard to know where to start. I grew up in a mostly white, mostly well-off town. Going through school, I assimilated. Discussions about race in the curriculum were more abstract than anything. I can count on one hand the number of Black students that shared a class with me my senior year.

That is: my understanding of race in society is severely limited by my sheltered personal experience. It’s not a topic I’m completely comfortable with or even know how to discuss.

But recent events have shown how uncomfortable many Black Americans feel day-to-day, and consequently, the importance of having this conversation. The responses of many, both online and offline, have shown how powerful making a public commitment to making a difference can be.

Over the past week, I’ve been inspired by many — from public figures to coworkers to friends — who have already taken action. I’ve been especially inspired by those friends who never seemed politically active or passionate about social justice, but whom I respect and trust and who have been inspired enough to make a statement.

It’s really because of them that I am sharing this — to see those folks speaking out in a way that I’d never seen from them before was powerful, a catalyst in encouraging me to confront my own inaction and lack of understanding and to come up with a genuine plan moving forward. Because of them, I’ve been pushed to think more deeply about what I can do to effect positive change.

With that, I’ve decided to start by committing to the following:

  1. At the very least, I am too often tolerant of the casual racism that’s easy to dismiss when everyone’s laughing. I will work to more actively nip it in the bud.
  2. Friends have encouraged me to learn more about racism’s role in America’s past, and have pointed me to resources to educate myself. I am starting by reading Just Mercy, and have also been reading more about topics like segregation, redlining, and police brutality. I can never fully understand what it is like to be Black in America in 2020, but I will do my best to learn as much as I can.
  3. Beyond my personal life, I am fortunate to have started my career at such a young age. I contribute money to my retirement fund every month, and it’s strange to see the S&P undergoing a record recovery while our country languishes. Inspired by others who have donated, and wishing to make an ongoing commitment like I already do for my personal future, I pledge to set aside some money each month1 going forward for our collective future, too. I will start by donating $1002 per month — in June, split among the Equal Justice Initiative, the Center for Policing Equity, the ACLU, and NAACP LDF — and increase that amount as my means increase going forward.

This is by no means exhaustive and I’m sure there will be things to add going forward, but I am ready to make a commitment on these items right now.

For those of you who wish to make a difference but have stayed silent to this point, I think I may understand where you are coming from. The issue is uncomfortable and you may not know what to say or do. At first glance, it doesn’t affect you or I. It might feel strange to commit to being anti-racist if you don’t see any racism personally in the first place — what’s there to do?

I know that it took me some time to truly think about our nation’s history, how racism affects us all, what I could do personally, and then feel confident enough to write something. Honestly, I’m still not 100% comfortable publicly sharing something like this — it’s not necessarily my “brand.”

But I’ve realized that saying something is really the easiest, most basic way I can begin to make a difference, and I share this with the hope that this may serve as encouragement to others to engage with this issue more deeply, just as my friends’ visible action did for me. Only all together can we make meaningful change, and sharing a few honest words is the easiest way to start.

  1. Specifically, I plan to donate a percentage of what I’m saving for retirement each month (scaling as a function of my income). I’ve wanted to make charitable giving a more intentional part of my personal financial strategy for a bit now and I think this is the simplest way to go about it.

  2. A friend who works at a tech company with donation matching is generously offering to match my donation, which is awesome. If you know someone at Google, Facebook, Apple, etc. (there are quite a few companies that donation match employees), consider reaching out to potentially double your impact.

    If not, Netlify is also matching donations made to select organizations.

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