A message to our community: an open letter from Black@Sprout

A note from the authors: Our Black@Sprout Business Resource group wrote this open letter and shared it with our team last week. We’re sharing it with you today because we believe this message is important for everyone to hear. One of our values as a company is championing diversity, equity and inclusion. This commitment means we work to build a diverse team, foster an inclusive culture and invest in equity—defined as system-level change—across our organization. It also means that in times like these, we want to use our platform to share our beliefs and encourage allyship within our community.

Dear #TeamSprout,

Our community is deeply impacted by the fact that the death of George Floyd took place at the hands of the Minneapolis police. However, it is not just George Floyd’s death that takes a toll on our community. It is the constant, unjustified deaths of our people at the hands of those who are sworn to protect us and the fatal outcomes when participating in activities that we all should have the freedom to do. This freedom is void for us because of the systemic racism that exists against Black people in this country, and that is what makes the Black experience feel terrifying.

While this letter will not account for all the emotions felt throughout our community, we wanted to share with you how these tragedies impact us, the questions we find ourselves asking, how you can show support and some resources that we can all use to increase our knowledge and participate in the fight against racism.

The impact on our community

We deserve to live. We deserve to be seen. We deserve to be appreciated. We are worthy of those things just as much as anybody else.

The most recent events trigger a series of thoughts and questions: “Here we go again,” “Things will never change,” “Nobody cares but us,” “Why?”, “When does this stop?”, “How many lives will it take?”, “Why is no one listening?”, “Why do we showcase a negative narrative of the person’s life that has been taken?” and “Where are our allies?”.

While we struggle to make sense of our thoughts, conversations with our families and friends about another Black life senselessly taken, and what the future holds, it begins to emotionally overcome some of us. Don’t be surprised to see some changes in our behavior. While we bear the weight of this burden, we put on brave faces. But at the same time, we might carry ourselves differently these days, communicate in a different way or need a break or an afternoon off. The world expects us to operate as if this is normal. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, normal about this.

As we see the unrest across the country, please know that this is a cry for the unheard. A cry for change. While we don’t want violence, we desperately want change. We want our lives to be valued. We want protection. We want what is promised to all of us. Our inalienable right to life and equality.

In the words of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), “we are done dying.” The time for action is now. We can’t wait. The names on your feed and in the media are the only ones you hear about, but believe us when we say there are many more.

We need your support

We cannot move forward without allies. Without each of us standing up against this injustice, we will continue to see George Floyds, Breonna Taylors, Ahmaud Arberys, Philando Castiles, Alton Sterlings, Mike Browns, Sandra Blands, and the list of so many in this scroll of unjustified deaths. It is a beautiful thing to see so many diverse people banding together in Minneapolis because this isn’t a “Black people problem,” this is a problem for all of us. 

If you find yourself desensitized by the violence against us, then we implore you to watch, read and understand the depth of the pain that we endure. A fatal, unjustified outcome that could easily happen to one of us, our family members or our friends. In the words of the Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Frey, “To ignore it, to toss it out would be to ignore the values that we all claim to have, that are all the more important during the time of crisis.” If you aren’t an ally, then you must become one. If you believe in the values of Sprout, then you must be an ally. We urge you all to be allies. There is no such thing as too small when it comes to speaking out against racism and racial injustice. Please do not assume that someone else will take action. We need action from you.

When it comes to supporting us, check on us with compassion, and please listen if we decide to share with you. This is not easy for any of us and the swarm of emotions we’re experiencing takes time to process.

In order to move forward, we need you to do some inner work. We appreciate the conversations that have started in #talk-dei (ed. note: an internal Slack channel where our team discusses topics, initiatives and resources related to diversity, equity and inclusion) and the resources that have been shared. Below, we have compiled a list of timely resources, ways to educate yourself and others, and organizations you can support during this time.

As you learn and hear more, in the spirit of our DEI norms, be okay with experiencing discomfort right now and getting uncomfortable. We understand this discomfort may be new to some of you, but you have to do your part. Change can’t happen unless you do.

As we all move forward, remember that we are still here. Standing tall even in the midst of trial and pain. Carrying with us the hurts of our community and laying them before the world crying out for change. As we stand, we want you there too.

– Your Black@Sprout colleagues and friends

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