June 11, 2020

A Black Techies View of The Last Two Weeks

Over the last two weeks, Black people globally have had to revisit the emotions that erupt when we consider how we are treated in society. We are currently juggling collective trauma while navigating our way through what we hope is a lasting revolution. There is little that can describe the universal, unanimous outcry of pain and grief that we are experiencing together.

No, what the Black community is experiencing this week is not new. The grief, the pain, the anger, the cry for a mindset and systemic change – none of this is new. But what’s different this time is a lot of us have spent damn near three months at home (if we were able), away from our oppressors. We escaped the microaggressions lobbed at us from all angles, we’ve communicated with our loved ones, and we’ve agreed: “There’s no way we can ever go back to that.”

A revolution needed to happen and we ALL needed to be heard. So we spoke up together.

For me, the “moment” started with some good old-fashioned social media addiction. You know the drill: looking up hashtags, resharing all the memes, reading all the articles. It was a horrible entrapment and felt disconnected from the reality of the situation. Then on Sunday, May 31st, I woke up with some serious mania (I didn’t know that yet) and anger. I had to do something.  

In a matter of minutes, I jumped out of bed and went straight to a protest happening in London. I called a friend who I thought might feel the same. We met up and we embraced as hard as we could, throwing COVID precautions to the wind. We needed it. 

We watched the square fill up with all different kinds of people. It was one of the most motivating and uplifting moments of my life. Yes, we were protesting a wrongful death [one of many] at the hands of the police and institutional racism–but, it was so much bigger than that. The oft used protest chant – “enough is enough” – is, ironically, not enough. 

Making this matter

After that first (of many) protests, I wanted to write a long and powerful collection of my thoughts and feelings, but boy was that hard. It will have to wait for another day. Instead, I decided that I’ve seen enough negative content over the last… forever and I need to flip this for my own personal sanity.

Here are the eight ways this went from being a dreadful, depressing week to one of the most uplifting moments of my life. And the reasons I’m hopeful that this is a moment we can cause change that can last beyond this moment. 

Protests have been a place of comfort. – I am tired.

Let’s leave it at that.  But attending the protests felt like going to your favorite artist’s final concert. Yes, it was emotional and rough, but being in a sea of people who say “I see you, I feel you, I want to be here with you” is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I don’t know what artist can do this for me, but I need to find out. 

Tech companies are showing us who they are.  – Kind of.

I’m not saying that every company has to make a public statement, but that’s nice, too. As a person in tech, it’s been incredible to watch some companies release their statements–or lack thereof. Let’s say, large corporations are showing us who they are and who they probably always have been. We’ve been able to see the receipts and they’re showing us if they’re ugly or not. 

Black people are coming together.

Better than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime at least. I can’t help but feel and also experience that boundaries have dropped for everyone. The number of people reaching out to each other with love, help, hope, guidance, and sometimes money, is amazing. The community is amazing. I’ve met some of my new best friends in the last week. Black women organizing things is not something you want to mess with. 

People are finally educating themselves.

The Black curriculum in school is usually dismal unless you’ve gone out of your way to getting a Ph.D. in African American Cultural Studies. While it has become quite the struggle to have a white person in my inbox every five seconds asking me if what they’re doing, saying, watching and/or reading is right for Black people (I am not the leader of the black folk, so I cannot speak for who may or may not be offended, okay white friends?). Regardless I’m seeing Black and non-Black folks alike making an effort to gain a greater understanding of Black history and issues. This is going to be key during the revolution and of course, the next election. 

Supporting Black-owned anything is on the rise.

Black business is booming–or about to be by like, tomorrow. One of my friends tweeted that she saw a thousands-of-followers spike in a matter of hours. I laughed and said, “This is the work of everyone frantically searching for black companies to support and align with.” I love it and I hope this never stops.

The “I’m-not-racist-but-I-seem-to-do-or-say-racist-things” people are finally looking in the mirror. 

If they’re not yet looking in the mirror, they’ll get called out soon. , I have not lost any friends over the course of the last week. People who I thought were racist…have done some things to expose themselves in the last couple of days. It’s unfortunate but I’m happy to see them drop out of my “friend” group. 

Black people are letting their companies know what’s good

My friends, colleagues, and peers have let go of their fears and are speaking up to tell their organizations that they are sick and tired of the system. I’ve said “something” about the diversity numbers at every single company I’ve ever been to in my career. I’ve seen and heard of so many people saying, “I can’t take it anymore and I must say something.” Hearing the stories and seeing the emails being sent has been some of the best “I’m done with this shit” content I’ve ever seen. 

Things have changed.

I think we’re all feeling the same thing and are reminded that there is no linear way of moving forward with this movement. If we want things to change, we can’t stop and we cannot let go of all that we’ve been feeling over this last week (again, read: lifetime). 

Please keep it going, everybody. I have to because this is the best concert I’ve ever been to so far.

Nakita Austin

Formerly a Tennis Superstar. Currently a Digital Marketing Jedi Master. 1st Gen Haitian-Filipino American Londoner.