“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere ”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Mahesh Ram, CEO, Solvvy, June 2020
The events of the last week have forced many of us at Solvvy to confront harsh realities. The tragic and unnecessary murder of George Floyd (for it cannot be called anything else) on the heels of the equally reprehensible Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor killings, and countless other similar acts explicitly targeted at black lives make us feel angry, violated. We are united in raging against the institutions that made a mockery of the principle that all of us are treated equally under the law. We can, no we must, demand change in these inequities. But that’s not enough and the problem is not only outside us.
These events forced many of us (myself included) to do more than shake our fists at the world outside. True introspection means acknowledging our own lack of understanding about the history that landed us here. On a personal level, it means acknowledging that while I may be a person of color, I will never truly understand what every black person in America must confront every day. Each of us, all of us (!), have to commit to listen, learn, and increase our commitment to those who are doing the good work to eliminate injustice. And most importantly do some of that good work ourselves.
At Solvvy, we are announcing the following steps today:
• Lasting change requires reforming or improving many of the existing systems in our country that enable injustice. With this in mind, our employees are guiding our company’s direct contributions towards five organizations that do wonderful work in various areas to ensure systemic justice: The Innocence Project, The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, SMASH Academy, The Equal Justice Initiative and the ACLU. These organizations impact change in many arenas: the legal system, educational opportunities for all, and civil rights. Please join us in supporting their worthy causes.
• We will offer our Solvvy self-service platform to any worthy cause that advances these social justice issues at no cost. We will actively seek out and offer our services to these organizations.
• We are reaffirming our commitment to diversity and inclusiveness within our own company. Like many others, we haven’t done well enough and there’s no excuse to not do better, something we recognized even prior to these recent events. We’ve been working internally on initiatives to hold ourselves accountable — from increasing diversity on our team (including underrepresented people of color), to having more formal training for staff on unconscious bias, to rejecting any full-time hire requests that do not interview a diverse slate of candidates. These are small but important steps in the right direction.
Solvvy mourns the tragedies of George Floyd and those that came before him. We stand united with those that are striving for positive change. We commit to being better agents for that change ourselves. #BlackLivesMatter
P.S. I leave you with a poignant poem I shared with our team, written 75 years ago by the great Langston Hughes.
Let America Be America Again (1935)
Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!