I’ve been hesitant to write this message, as I always fear being seen to be paying lip-service to issues, or seeming to jump on a band-wagon. I am not doing that. I am addressing one of the most profound issues of civilisation.
Most of us will have seen, over the last few days – in social media, in news in general, and amongst our friends – the great pain that racism continues to cause in the world. Sometimes I feel it is enough to run a company where there is no issue of race, where everyone simply knows that the only things affecting their career and their working lives are their skills and performance. The tragic killing of George Floyd has, however, resulted in a very clear request by those who are not white to those who are white to not stay silent. To call out racism for the unconscionable offence to humanity that it is.
I’m not entirely white. There are many others in our company who are not white. My first ten years of life, in Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya saw me going to ‘black’ schools, and never once finding myself subject to any form of racism. I recognise and appreciate how it feels to be treated decently, respectfully, as an equal human being. proquo ai must be a place where everyone, of every hue and colour, of every creed and faith, male and female, feels safe, included, valued and enjoying equal opportunity, whatever their nature.
I’m aware that our three offices are located in places that have historically struggled with racism – colonialism in the UK, slavery in the USA and apartheid in South Africa. I am therefore explicitly speaking out against those histories, those terrible aberrations of decent, civilised behaviour between diverse people.
I’m proud that, amongst our proquo ai team, the colours of all our skins simply constitute the beautiful kaleidoscope of humanity. If ever it needed saying, let me say it in unequivocal terms: there is absolutely no place for any form of racist attitude or behaviour in proquo ai, whatsoever. Nor in our lives.
Over the past few days, and as we go forward, the point that people are asking us – consciously, deliberately – to understand is: if you are white, you have many privileges that people who are not white cannot take for granted. That is not right. I believe we must all call it out, say it is not right. And in our actions, make sure that it is never what happens to anyone with whom we interact.
I’m calling it out as we have been asked to do by the black community in the States: Black Lives Matter. Everywhere.