We are members of the Asian and Asian American tech community who stand in solidarity with the Black community. We acknowledge white supremacy and anti-Black racism in tech, and we call on our Asian and Asian American colleagues to use our relative privilege to demand change.
Our community has faced heightened anti-Asian racism during the COVID-19 pandemic, including slurs and violent attacks rooted in white supremacy. We cannot fight the force of white supremacy without also fighting against anti-Black racism. We have benefited greatly from Black community activism for decades, from the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that opened the doors for many of us to come to the United States, to the Voting Rights Act that granted Asian Americans, and other racial and ethnic minorities, the right to vote. Our foundational rights have come from the labor of Black leaders like activist Fannie Lou Hamer, who said,
“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”
History has also shown how white supremacy has co-opted Asians and Asian Americans, driving a racial wedge between us and other people of color, especially Black Americans. Many Asians have internalized and perpetuated white supremacy, as evidenced by the adoption of the Model Minority Myth and the ubiquity of colorism and anti-Black racism. Simultaneously, white supremacy holds us back, including through the bamboo ceiling, the Model Minority Myth, and the erasure of the diverse diaspora within our community, especially Southeast Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Filippinx. We call on our community to denounce the irreparable harm and trauma Tou Thao and Soon Ja Du caused to the Black community by killing George Floyd and Latasha Harlins, and to take stock of the daily instances of anti-Blackness in our community. Let us follow instead the legacy of Grace Lee Boggs and Yuri Kochiyama who fought for Black liberation by showing up for Black Lives Matter.
It’s our turn to show up for the Black community and to demand justice for all Black lives.
We, especially overrepresented East and South Asians in tech, continue to enjoy relative privilege that gives us access to spaces and resources that exclude our Black colleagues. The numbers show just how widespread and insidious systemic racism in tech is for Black people, from venture capitalists to founders to employees, and especially for Black women, and Black trans and non-binary people.
We need to do better by investing in Black tech and Black talent, and demanding equitable treatment and workplaces for Black employees.
If you are an investor, commit to hiring Black investing partners and to funding Black founders and innovators of all genders. Support them by providing equal access to resources, including later stage funding and relationships. Make room for Black board members, even if that means taking risks to ask White board members to step down. Invite Black coinvestors to your deals.
If you are a founder, commit to hiring Black executives and to bringing on Black board members and investors. Make your startup inclusive, equitable, and diverse at all levels, for all functions, without exceptions. Learn about Kimberlé Crenshaw and her work to name and define intersectionality. Publicly denounce anti-Black racism. Hold employees, partners, and clients accountable for anti-Blackness and behaviors that harm marginalized people. Reward and pay employees for diversity work. Treat diversity and inclusion as a core business imperative, hire experienced leaders to drive, and use metrics and budgets to support and measure progress.
If you are an employee, speak up when you witness harm. Make sure your Black coworkers are included in meetings, in conversations, in all opportunities. Call out your company if your Black coworkers are shouldering a disproportionate amount of emotional and educational labor burden without their explicit consent and additional compensation. Understand that systemic bias permeates hiring, promotions, compensation, and other interactions, and that you can speak up and help demand change. Understand and support worker-led movements like Black Tech for Black Lives,TechEquity Collaborative, Mijente, and Solidarity Onboarding. Understand how HR policies and labor law have allowed the tech industry to create a second-class of low-paid, less protected workers who are mostly Black and Brown.
We call on all Asians in tech to be anti-racist and actively fight anti-Black racism.
Start by educating yourself and by making a long-term financial commitment to racial justice organizations through recurring donations proportionate to your ability to give. Commit to a lifetime of progress, one step at a time; it’s important and hard, requiring self-awareness and a willingness to learn, grow, change, and take action. Let’s do the work to create a more just world for everyone.
We invite you to be a part of our anti-racist journey. On July 16th, 2020 we are hosting an educational discussion for our community to learn, to process, and to show up for the Black community. We will do the necessary work of mobilizing our community through education, accountability, and anti-racism. We hope you join us.
Ellen K. Pao and Michelle Kim
Sign the pledge here
Thank you to Aniyia Williams, Y-Vonne Hutchinson, Christine Wang, Katrina Jones for your valuable feedback and perspectives.