Last Week in the Bay Area: Community & Corporate Leaders Stand Up

A constant over the past few months has been a depressive anxiety caused by the outbreak of governmental shifts, threats, violence, social media, and news. It is partially factful, mostly negative, and definitely eats away at hope as the gravity of our times sink in. My relationship with my phone has felt like a bad romance, and I’m still not sure whether it was a freudian slip that caused it to break recently.

However, connecting with and listening to people in the Bay Area this past week has made it more and more apparent that this digital cascade does not represent who we are as a country or where we are going as humanity. Through events and community interactions, I’ve felt more deeply part of a growing movement — an idea that we are integrated, connected, and can be proactive in how we create our future and the news, rather than let it digest us.

One City

This past Thursday, SF Citi and ACLU hosted their One City event, which was focused on how employees, immigrants, and the tech community felt about the immigration ban. It dove further into sentiments of corporations and nonprofits. How organizations like the ACLU, with people who have worked on these issues for decades, have overcome challenges. Julia Harumi Mass, a Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU spoke about generational fights for equality over the years, summing it up with:

“While these are dark times, this is an incredible opportunity. When you look at the level of outrage, involvement, and activism in response to the Trump initiatives, they have been unprecedented in my memory with record numbers of people.”
Panel with the employees of the ACLU, Erickson Immigration Group, AirBnB, Adroll & Zendesk.

We are excited to have the ACLU of Northern California speak at our next event, Inclusive Leadership in Divisive Times, along with other nonprofit and corporate leaders.

But, on to the rest of the night. I met two Dutch graduate students, one who was studying gentrification in the Mission district, and the other who was writing a thesis on the tech community. These foreigners, who were so immersed in our community, had a country halfway across the world facing their own polarizing election. Congrats to the people of the Netherlands for not electing the anti-immigrant Party, and forcing political parties to form alliances in order to win elections.

Tech Stands Up

My friend Ryan, along with my two new visiting Dutch acquaintances and I, went to Palo Alto for a rally on 3/14 (pi day) organized by Tech Stands Up. They are a new grassroots movement urging the tech industry to use its talents, power, and resources to do more for our communities. Dozens of speakers including immigrant contract workers, CEO’s, and community leaders shared their views. Leaders like Brad, a developer who spearheaded the event (and movement), decided to stand up for what he believed in and was able to bring together a diverse audience to take meaningful action. Mckenzie Lock from Tech Stands Up opened with their manifesto, part of which really hit home for me.

“Bubbles don’t just form in stock markets, they form in society, and everybody suffers when they pop. “Changing the world” requires more than apps and algorithms, but rather leveraging those technologies for good.”

Throughout the week I frequently spoke with my friend, neighbor, and mentor. He has lived and worked in the Bay Area his whole life, and at seventy years old has zero confidence that his or countless millions of other people’s medical needs will be met with the new health care plan and budget. He had told me during the election how he was worried our generation didn’t know how to organize — not in “likes” but in the real world. Yet, his faith in the next generation is renewed after watching this movement spreading

Although media is a reflection of our reality and the times we live in, it will always slant towards clickbait with shocking stories describing our darkest fears. If we let it suck us in, it can feel like, or worse become our future reality.

However, it does not properly represent what is happening in our streets and hearts. This is why we need to take action and stay engaged in supporting our communities. Also, as we have seen with the second failed attempt at an Muslim ban in our country and the election in the Netherlands, using discriminatory language in media shows your intentions to the world. A world that rejects prejudices of the past.

Please join ThinkThank & HandsOn Bay Area at Inclusive Leadership in Divisive Times, on April 19th at the Grand Theater / Gray Area Foundation. We are privileged to help everyone continue this conversation and bring together speakers from the ACLU, SF Foundation, Microsoft, PwC, Symantec, SAP, and more.