In the wake of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling’s brutal shooting deaths at the hands of law enforcement in Minnesota and Louisiana respectively and the subsequent Dallas sniper attack that tragically claimed the lives of five police officers at a peace rally last week, the need to support and strengthen the #BlackLivesMatter movement is more important than ever.
Amid the protests and battle cries, three unexpected allies have emerged from Silicon Valley – Facebook, Twitter and Google. On Thursday, Google tweeted that Castile and Sterling’s lives mattered and that “We need racial justice now.”
“The racially charged acts of violence over the past week add even greater urgency to our longstanding work to promote racial equality at Google and beyond,” Valeisha Butterfield-Jones, Google’s head of Black Community Engagement, told ESSENCE. “Our Black Googler Network and its allies have taken the lead in many instances, leading protests against acts of violence against the Black community and organizing safe spaces to talk openly about the impact these tragic events have on them and the community-at-large.
“Google also supports organizations that lead the charge on racial justice, including Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative,” Butterfield-Jones added. “We will continue to stand in solidarity with the fight for racial justice.”
Facebook, meanwhile, offered its support Friday with a giant “Black Lives Matter” sign at the company’s Menlo Park headquarters.
What made the digital sign even more compelling is that the letters were made up of the names of Black men and women senselessly slaughtered including Renisha McBride, Oscar Grant and Amadou Diallo. In the past, Facebook has erected Black Lives Matter posters in its various offices worldwide.
When a Minnesota police officer fatally shot Castile on July 6, his fiancée Diamond Reynolds used Facebook Live to show the world the gruesome aftermath of the shooting, which took place in her car in front of her 4-year-old daughter. Since then, the video has amassed some 5 million views despite Facebook briefly taking down the video for an hour due to a glitch.
The day after Castile was killed, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, publicly sent his condolences on the social media site adding, “My heart goes out to the Castile family and all the other families who have experienced this kind of tragedy. My thoughts are also with all members of the Facebook community who are deeply troubled by these events.”
“The images we’ve seen this week are graphic and heartbreaking, and they shine a light on the fear that millions of members of our community live with every day,” he said. “While I hope we never have to see another video like Diamond’s, it reminds us why coming together to build a more open and connected world is so important — and how far we still have to go.”
Over at Twitter, the #BlackLivesMatter message also struck a chord, with the company’s African-American employee resource group @Blackbirds tweeting its frustration over deceased victims’ names trending because of police brutality.
Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple and other tech giants have faced increased scrutiny and criticism for their diversity deficient workforces amid a sea of predominately white male employees.
But with increased involvement in social issues that deeply impact the Black community such as #BlackLivesMatter, perhaps there is hope for Silicon Valley yet.
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