Despite all that the Black Lives Matter movement has done in terms of rallying support, calling attention to rampant racial inequality, and daylighting police brutality, many still oppose their nominal tenet. Even at supposedly progressive and overwhelmingly young places, like Facebook, the issue persists. This week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg decided to take a stand: Showing his support for the "Black Lives Matter" movement, Zuckerberg's message to Facebook employees came in the form of an inter-office announcement, and admonished those employees who continued to cross out "Black Lives Matter" and replace it with "All Lives Matter."
Zuckerberg posted the private memo on an employees-only announcement page. In it, Zuckerberg calls out those anonymous employees who still fail to grasp that the phrase “black lives matter” does not refute that “all lives matter.” The graffiti, and its revisions, appeared on Facebook's famous signature wall, which entreats passersby to "write something here." Apparently, some employees took that to mean "write anything here," or, better, "be insensitive and ignorant here."
The company wasted no time in addressing the issue. In response to public scrutiny about the homogeneity of Facebook's employees, they have been making an effort to diversify their staff and, especially, their leadership. However liberal or open-minded young Facebook employees purport to be (or are supposed to statistically be), it does not change the fact that the majority of them are white males. This erasure of "Black Lives Matter" is perhaps not so surprising for a community that is currently only 2 percent black, but it is all the more disheartening coming from such a large, iconic, and influential company.
In his post, Zuckerberg adopted the tone of an exhausted, disappointed parent. He alluded to the fact that this was not the first incident of anonymous racism at the tech bastion. At its most pointed, the memo read, "I was already very disappointed by this disrespectful behavior before, but after my communication I now consider it malicious as well."
For a company looking to be a leader in diversity in the notoriously white Silicon Valley, this reflects very poorly, but, sadly, it's probably not unusual in the tech world. In the post, Zuckerberg provides a short primer on the Black Lives Matter movement and why it, well, matters. What's difficult about this situation is that the very cause of the post is evidence that the movement still matters. He went on to write, "We've never had rules around what people can write on our walls -- we expect everybody to treat each other with respect." Here is his memo in full:
It's hard to say what sort of "investigating" Zuckerberg will be able to do, but he does seem dedicated to maintaining a culture of respect. This incident goes to show that racism is present at every strata, in every industry, in this country, and it will take a lot more work to change that.