We stand for racial justice.

Katherine Maher
Jun 4, 2020 · 5 min read

By: Katherine Maher, CEO, and Janeen Uzzell, COO, of the Wikimedia Foundation.

George Floyd’s death last week at the hands of law enforcement in Minneapolis lays bare the tremendous inequalities and racism that black people face in the United States on a daily basis. In the past few weeks, his name, along with Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and David McAtee have joined a staggering register of victims of violent anti-Black racism in America.

“George Floyd protesters confront riot control outside of Lafayette Square on H St.” Image by Rosa Pineda, CC BY-SA 4.0.

We see our Black colleagues, community members, readers, and supporters grieving, fearful, and feeling the weight of this week and the history of all of the weeks just like this. Today, and every day, the Wikimedia Foundation stands in support of racial justice and with the movement for Black Lives. As an employer and part of an international movement our work in every country depends on promoting and defending human rights.

“The Wikimedia Foundation stands in support of racial justice and with the movement for Black Lives.”

Over the past week, we have witnessed communities across the U.S. and around the world stand up for racial justice and demand an end to police brutality and extrajudicial killings. This has been met with more brutality, arrests, and even lethal force against citizens from Minneapolis to New York City, Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. In many places this policing response has been accompanied by egregious attacks on freedoms of the press and the rights to freedom of speech and assembly.

On these issues, there is no neutral stance. To stay silent is to endorse the violence of history and power; yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It is well past time for racial justice in America and beyond.

The Wikimedia vision, “a world in which every single human can share in the sum of all knowledge,” guides our commitment to the inherent dignity and value of every single human being. Our efforts are animated by foundational understandings: that the right to information is fundamental, universal, and inviolable, and that our work will be forever incomplete until all voices are heard.

“To stay silent is to endorse the violence of history and power.”

In 2017, the Wikimedia Foundation adopted an explicit commitment to “Knowledge Equity.” We pledged our focus as a social movement to supporting knowledge and communities that have been left out by structures of power and privilege, and to breaking down the social, political, and technical barriers preventing people from accessing and contributing to free knowledge.

We understand our work to support free knowledge is about far more than a website. It involves reclaiming knowledge from gatekeepers and reestablishing it as something we do and share together. It is a radical act of freedom and reimagination of the status quo. It calls on all of us to shape what we understand of our world, be critical readers of conventional wisdom, and participate in writing history. Our work cannot be separated from the work of equality and freedom.

We recognize and stand with Black Americans in the fight for justice and equality. We reject racism and the ideology of white supremacy. We condemn attacks on the press and protesters in violation of the fundamental right to freedom of expression. To these ends, we make the following statements.

We call upon governments to:

  • Deescalate police standoffs. Recognize the right and legitimacy of public protest. Deescalate tensions, reduce police mobilization, and end the use of weapons in crowd control during such legitimate public protests.

We commit to advancing racial justice in Wikimedia work, including:

  • Our accountabilities: Completing a racial equity framework for the Wikimedia Foundation and its programmes, integrating equity goals into our annual planning, and using our operational practices to hold ourselves to account.

Furthermore, we wish to amplify the following Wikimedia affiliates and efforts:

  • AfroCrowd: seeks to increase awareness of the Wikimedia and free knowledge culture and software movements among potential editors of African descent

We hope that one day the Wikimedia projects document a grand turning point — a time in the future when our communities, systems, and institutions acknowledge the equality and dignity of all people. Until that day, we stand with those who are fighting for justice and for enduring change. With every edit, we write history.

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