Like many of you, I’m hurting, and frustrated, and angry from the past week’s events. We watched the murder of a black man who had no ability to pose a risk to the police that had restrained him. A police officer, who has sworn an oath to serve and protect his community, murdered a man in the streets while three other men, who took the exact same oath, stood by and did nothing to protect him. They did that in my name. They did that in your name. We hire them with our tax dollars, elect their leadership, and every ounce of the work they do is in our name. It makes me sick.
It might be a bit easier to explain it away if this was a rare occurrence, a one-off event, a bad apple as they say (please watch the Chris Rock video embedded below as he so eloquently points out how some professions can’t tolerate bad apples). But that isn’t the case. Just a couple months ago a young black man was taking a run through a neighborhood and was gunned down by two men who deemed him a threat with no evidence at all. Those men weren’t charged until the video of the event was released and public outcry demanded it. The DA had that video and didn’t charge these men. That man works for us too. He did that in our name. I could fill a book with time, after time, after time, after time of black men and women dying without due process, without being heard, without justice. The lack of justice for our friends, our peers, our neighbors, that’s all done in our name too. It makes me sick.
Then, when the people who have so long been pushed down speak-up, they are met with batons, tear gas, pepper spray, mace, curfews, and unprovoked police violence in incident, after incident, after incident and in city, after city, after city. These responses could potentially be explained away if we didn’t have such recent contrast with coronavirus protests. It’s amazing how different the response looked when it was white guys carrying guns and invading public buildings. I used to struggle with the idea that there was a systemic problem, that it was something that existed widely and commonly. Not anymore. It makes me sick.
Finally, from the top position of leadership in our country there has been provocation in a manner that I have never seen before. White protesters are good people and should be heard and black protesters are thugs that need to be dominated and put down. Peaceful protesters are removed from public land so the President can show how powerful he is and flex with a photo op in front of a church with no concern or consideration for what is being said or why people are protesting to begin with. He threatens to break a sacred portion of our social contract by utilizing our military to quiet dissent. He does that in my name. It makes me sick.
To The People Of Color In The Networking Community And Beyond
My pain, frustration, and anger pale in comparison to the injustice you have known your entire lives. Not once have I been afraid for my safety during an interaction with the police. I have never had to deliberately avoid situations in order to not appear as a threat or menace through no action of my own.
I see you. I stand with you. Black lives matter.
While I can’t fully place myself in your shoes, I can without question understand why you are protesting. Your community has tried, and tried, and tried to be heard through peaceful means. It’s been happening for a long time with only marginal movement or success. While I don’t believe that violence effects the change you want or strengthens your message, I do understand how frustrations boil over, especially in light of law enforcement’s response to your speaking up. Find the strength to speak without inflicting injustice on others and your message is unstoppable. Don’t give up hope. You are being heard.
I struggled with whether or not I should write or say anything. The very last thing I want to do is to speak up for the wrong reasons, to make myself, my brand, or Network Collective look better from cheap and meaningless responses, or to dilute the powerful message of equality that is being spoken right now. Also, while I appreciate the intent of social media posts, blogs, etc… without action they are dust in the wind and accomplish little. Scoring cheap internet points through effortless transactions may make some feel better and assuage some of the inner turmoil that events like this bring on, but they do little in actually moving the needle.
That being said, the work I do at Network Collective has always been about building up, supporting, and encouraging the broader networking and technology community. That commitment isn’t just about empowering technological growth, it’s about caring for the people I call peers and trying to do my best to be a positive influence within the narrow community I exist in. What kind of credibility would I have if I didn’t speak up and stand with the men and women in our industry who are confronting this social injustice head on? I don’t believe I would have any at all.
I’m still investigating, debating, and exploring what real action looks like going forward. I’m happy to hear from you on how we might meaningfully help and contribute during this tumultuous time. While not included in this specific post, I have started to collect some thoughts on effective reforms that are worth pursuing. As much as I would like to see racism eradicated from existence, that’s not a practical or obtainable goal. However, there are many obtainable goals that could mitigate or eliminate the space for racism to exist in the execution of our public servant’s duties. Those things will take concerted effort and time. This conversation is far from over. In the meantime know that there are many standing with you. This one was different and woke some of us up. Enough is enough.
P.S. – There are many individuals who associated with varying degrees of closeness to Network Collective. I want to be clear that they were not consulted in any way on this messaging and that I don’t speak for them in this post.
Jordan Martin, CCIE #43772, is a Technical Solutions Architect at World Wide Technology focusing on SD-WAN and enterprise networking. Jordan also co-founded and hosts the popular Network Collective podcast.