Juneteenth, WatchGuard Closes for a Day of Reflection and Learning
We have declared Juneteenth – Friday, June 19, 2020 – as a day of reflection and learning. We are treating this day as a bank holiday; no meetings, no work. For those of you contacting our Sales and Support teams, a small group of employees have volunteered to be present, but please understand if wait times are longer than normal.
I recently wrote a post addressing my feelings about the death of George Floyd, the racial and social injustice in our world, and my next steps for contributing to permanent and lasting change. Thanks to all of you who read the post, and to all of you who engaged publicly via comments, as well as those who reached out to me personally.
Since writing that post, I’ve been immersed in learning and conversations, and a resounding theme is “How can I help now; What should I do differently now?” The answer to these questions is personal to each of our experiences, but what is universal is the need to deeply reflect on our feelings, and to learn, before we make lasting impact. With that in mind, we have declared Juneteenth as a day of reflection and learning; no meetings, no work. Our employees may use the day for learning and reflection on how we all can contribute to a culture of anti-racism and allyship at WatchGuard and in our communities.
It is appropriate to reflect on the work ahead of us on Juneteenth. On this day in 1865, almost two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, enslaved African Americans in Texas were informed of their freedom. I plan to use the day to chart my next steps. I have divided them into three areas:
- Continue Learning: I want to increase my comfort engaging with everyone in my ecosystem (employees, peers, friends, family) on the topic of race and social inequality.
- Become an Ally: Learn how to make an impact through allyship; I plan to start distilling those ideas down.
- Make an Institutional Impact: Work with the WatchGuard management team to identify what changes we can make – big or small – to create the right environment to encourage, celebrate, and promote diversity.
Through many conversations, and by reading books and articles, and attending webinars this week, I find myself becoming more comfortable engaging others on the topic of racism, and also being a better sounding board for others who are willing to talk about it. If possible, I hope you use June 19th to take the next steps in your learning and understanding on this topic, truly internalize what’s happening, and further develop your thoughts on how you want to engage.
Below is a list of resources about anti-racism and being an ally for your reference. I would like to end by sharing an article that had so much impact on me that I have read it daily to remind myself the need for deeper reflection, as captured by this closing quote in the article:
“Oh, and as we do it, be better than me. Remember, I had to change where I sat before I could change where I stood. If you first change where you stand, then the next generation will sit in a very different and better place.”
Resources about anti-racism and being an ally
- American Racism: We've Got So Very Far to Go – article that Prakash previously shared
- White Fragility: Why It's So Hard For White People To Talk Racism - book by Robin DiAngelo
- Just Mercy book by Bryan Stevenson – shares his experiences as a young attorney that inspired him to find the Equal Justice Initiative
- Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood autobiography by Trevor Noah – shares his struggles as a biracial child
- Guide to Allyship – an online guide
- 7 Examples of What Being an Ally at Work Really Looks Like article by Better Allies
- George Floyd and the Dominos of Racial Injustice – Trevor Noah’s 20-minute monologue
- 13th – documentary on Netflix that analyzes criminalization of African Americans
- Just Mercy – film based on life of Bryan Stevenson, whose book in listed in the reading resources above
- The Hate U Give – powerful film about a teen who witnesses a fatal shooting of a friend
- The Value of Diverse Teams During Crisis – presented by featured speaker Lauren Sato, CEO of Ada Developers Academy, to WatchGuard and PayScale employees
Looking for more materials
- Infographic on Becoming Anti-Racist
- For a much longer list of articles, books, blogs, movies, and podcasts