April 29, 2021

This Isn’t A Good Take: An Open Letter to Basecamp

Before it was time for my regular afternoon nap, I scrolled on Twitter to see a statement from Jason Fried, CEO/Co-Founder at Basecamp, about some of the changes that were being made. You can read the article here.

As I begin to read through the announcement, I thought internal changes would have meant some changes to their products or team but what I read is something I never saw coming. There are many things I want to point out but let me focus on what sticks out the most.

The first directional change (which sticks out to me) on the record was the following:

No more societal and political discussions at Basecamp. Today’s social and political waters are especially choppy. Sensitivities are at 11, and every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy, or society at large quickly spins away from pleasant. You shouldn’t have to wonder if staying out of it means you’re complicit, or wading into it means you’re a target. These are difficult enough waters to navigate in life, but significantly more so at work. It’s become too much. It’s a major distraction. It saps our energy, and redirects our dialog towards dark places. It’s not healthy, it hasn’t served us well. And we’re done with it at Basecamp.

Here’s why I have a HUGE problem with this….

Over the past few years, I have built a great relationship with the Basecamp team. It started with me being a customer, and then I became more fascinated about learning about the company, their culture, and truly learning their product. I personally supported them any time I could.

In June of 2020, when tensions in the world were at an all-time high, I began to call out MANY tech companies about supporting Black Lives Matter. I personally reached out to Jason to see if there was a statement being shared on behalf of the company, especially when my community was asking. After a brief chat, here’s what was published:

Reading today’s announcement felt like a slap in the face to me (personally), especially since it contradicts everything discussed above.

There is one thing I am ALWAYS clear about when I work with or support company’s (well, two, but I’m just sharing this one today): That I am 1000% unapologetically BLACK. If that is a problem, then we can’t do business together, OR I won’t be supporting your company. Today allowed me to realize that the work done in June of 2020 was in vain pertaining to Basecamp, and I have to draw a hard line in the sand.

Being Black doesn’t allow me to turn things on and off during my workday.

Being Black doesn’t allow me to spin away from unpleasantries because I live it on a daily basis. Being Black doesn’t allow me to stay complicit because any time someone is murdered, it could have easily been a member of my family being a hashtag. Yes, it’s been difficult to navigate our life because people keep killing us. Yes, it’s become heavy to be Black in America because they keep killing us. Yes, it saps our energy because we are simply tired because THEY KEEP KILLING US! It’s not healthy or hasn’t served us well either. And just like you’re done with it at Basecamp, a lot of your customers (me included) are done with you.

There were other things discussed in these updates that were alarming as well, but this one definitely hit home for me.

As I’ve continuously explained over the last year, I CAN NOT support a company that denies/declines to have discussions pertaining to issues that are important (i.e. what’s going on in society — especially within the Black community) just because it could be an inconvenience for their company.

Now, I’m going to take the nap that I delayed to speak on this but trust me when I say, “this isn’t a good take at all”.

This article was originally published by Kris Smith, aka TheBlackTechie on Medium  

Kris Smith

Kris Smith is the Founder and CEO of TECHnically Yours, LLC, helping build engaged audiences using proven email marketing, text marketing, & sales funnel strategies. texttheblacktechie.com

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