The civil unrest we’ve experienced in 2020, and the latest protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, have brought new attention to the threat posed by current law enforcement tactics to marginalized communities. We must stand with those who are working to create a better and more equitable system of justice in the United States and around the world.
The best place to begin this process is at the local level. Internet Association (IA) recently joined several leading coalitions and advocacy groups in co-signing a letter to Wisconsin’s Governor Tony Evers (D-WI), State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R), and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) insisting on immediate action to ensure justice for Jacob Blake and address oppressive systems that harm people of color.
State leaders must hold accountable the officers who shot Jacob Blake. They must also thoroughly re-examine current crime measures that have failed to reduce violence and have harmed vulnerable communities across the state. Local government funding for an approach that centers on community initiatives and improving public health must be a part of the solution.
The proposals listed in the jointly-signed letter include $25 million for a Community-Based Violence Intervention and Prevention Fund for local communities affected by violence to examine and implement effective lifesaving violence intervention initiatives. It also calls for the state of Wisconsin to commission a comprehensive plan to end violence using a public health approach that addresses underlying causes, prioritizes the protection of marginalized groups, supports victims of violence in all its forms, and adopts sustainable solutions for reducing violence across Wisconsin.
IA and our member companies are proud to contribute our collective voice in support of local communities affected by an oppressive policing system. Urging local government authorities to make reforms is a critical first step, but we also understand that our contribution to achieving racial equity must go far beyond this immediate call to action.
Co-signing this letter is just one component of IA’s commitment to advancing racial justice initiatives. In 2019, we released our first Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Benchmark Report which provides first-of-its-kind workforce data on underrepresented groups for companies in the internet industry. We are publishing our second D&I Benchmark Report later this year, and are continuing to increase transparency and implement viable practices to promote D&I within the industry.
Last month, IA launched a job referral site to connect diverse job applicants with career opportunities at IA member companies. This new resource is part of our efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the internet industry workforce. With the pandemic bringing more economic anxiety to communities of color, we’re proud that IA’s referral site provides new employment opportunities for talented candidates across the country. We are partnering with organizations like the National Urban League, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, AnitaB.org, and the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus to develop a strong database of qualified candidates from communities that are underrepresented in the internet industry.
Our industry is committed to reevaluating social institutions to combat structural inequality, and this commitment is a top priority. We are proud to co-sign this letter and join other social justice advocates in this call for racial equity.