Podopolo Believes #BlackLivesMatter

We believe ALL lives cannot matter until you include BLACK lives. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are engraved on the U.S. Supreme Court. 

After 400+ years of institutionalized racism it’s time for ALL of us to look within our hearts and minds and “BE” the change we want to see in the world – with love and compassion – says Podopolo founder and CEO Melinda Wittstock.

We are living in transformational times, and how we all choose to “BE” in this moment will chart our future course.

We are witnessing an awakening of profound proportions on much that is wrong with our society – the inequities, the institutionalized racism, and the lack of inspired political leadership – to bring us together to resolve them.

Yet we’ve learned something in all the pain, rawness, and fear of the past few weeks.

Our voices are powerful.

Powerful enough to overcome the pain borne of 400+ years of institutionalized racism?

It can seem insurmountable.

Yet within 10 days of exercising our First Amendment democratic rights with sustained protests, here are the changes we are seeing:

👏🏿 Minneapolis bans use of choke holds and sets out to reorganize and reform policing.

👏🏿 Charges are upgraded against Officer Chauvin; his accomplices are arrested and charged.

👏🏿 Dallas adopts a “duty to intervene” rule that requires officers to stop other cops who are engaging in inappropriate use of force.

👏🏿 New Jersey’s attorney general said the state will update its use-of-force guidelines for the first time in two decades.

👏🏿 In Maryland, a bipartisan work group of state lawmakers announced a police reform work group.

👏🏿 Los Angeles City Council introduces motion to reduce LAPD’s $1.8 billion operating budget and redirect funds to where most 911 calls and mental health or drug rehabilitation needs. 

👏🏿 MBTA in Boston agrees to stop using public buses to transport police officers to protests.

👏🏿 Police brutality captured on cameras leads to near-immediate suspensions and firings of officers in several cities (i.e., Buffalo, Ft. Lauderdale).

👏🏿 Monuments celebrating confederates are removed in cities in Virginia, Alabama, and other states.

👏🏿Street in front of the White House is renamed “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”

👏🏿Military forces begin to withdraw from D.C.

Then there's all the other things that are hard to measure: The really difficult public and private conversations happening around race and privilege.

The realizations an increasing number of white people are sharing about their awakening on racism and the role of policing in this country.

The self-reflection.

The knowledge and acceptance that as white people we live in a different world from our black and brown brothers and sisters – and that we have a responsibility to do our part to resolve and heal with compassion, understanding, love and listening.

The internal battles exploding within organizations over issues that have been simmering or ignored for a long time. Some organizations and companies will suffer, even close, as a result; others will be forever changed or replaced with something stronger and fairer.

Then there is what has happened all over the world …  

Rallies and memorials have been held in cities across Europe, as well as in Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand.

People all over the world understand that their own fights for human rights, for equality and fairness, will become so much more difficult to win if America is lost as the place where ‘I Have A Dream' is a real and universal political program,” Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to the US, told the New Yorker.

🇫🇷 In France, protesters marched holding signs that said “I can't breathe” to signify both the words of Floyd, and the last words of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black man who was subdued by police officers and gasped the sentence before he died outside Paris in 2016.

🇳🇱 In Amsterdam, an estimated 10,000 people filled the Dam square, holding signs and shouting popular chants like “Black Lives Matter,” and “No Justice, No Peace.”

🇩🇪 In Germany, people gathered in multiple locations throughout Berlin to demand justice for Floyd and fight against police brutality. A mural dedicated to Floyd was also spray-painted on a stretch of wall in Berlin that once divided the German capital during the Cold War.

🇮🇪 In Ireland, protesters held a peaceful demonstration outside of Belfast City Hall, and others gathered outside of the U.S. embassy in Dublin.

🇮🇹 In Italy, protesters gathered and marched with signs that said “Stop killing black people,” “Say his name,” and “We will not be silent.”

🇪🇸 In Spain, people gathered to march and hold up signs throughout Barcelona and Madrid.

🇬🇷 In Athens, Greece, protesters took to the streets to collectively hold up a sign that read “I can't breathe.”

🇩🇰 In Denmark, protesters were heard chanting “No justice, no peace!” throughout the streets of Copenhagen, while others gathered outside the U.S. embassy.

🇨🇦 In Canada, protesters were also grieving for Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old black woman who died on Wednesday after falling from her balcony during a police investigation at her building.

🇳🇿 And in New Zealand, roughly 2,000 people marched to the U.S. embassy in Auckland, chanting and carrying signs demanding justice.

Memorials have been built for Floyd around the world, too.

🇲🇽 In Mexico City, portraits of him were hung outside the U.S. embassy with roses, candles, and signs.

🇵🇱 In Poland, candles and flowers were laid out next to photos of Floyd outside the U.S. consulate.

🇸🇾 And in Syria, two artists created a mural depicting Floyd in the northwestern town of Binnish, “on a wall destroyed by military planes.”

There has been a real and palpable shift …
… and it's not too late to remain unenlightened. It's not too late to say: 

“Maybe I need to look at this from a different perspective.”

“Maybe I don't really know what it's like to be black in America.”

“Maybe, just maybe, I have been taught wrong.”

“Maybe it's time to spend more time listening.”

“Maybe coming at this with love, compassion and curiosity is the right answer.”

There is still so much work to be done.

Fact is, ALL lives cannot matter until you include BLACK lives.

Do all lives matter? Of course.

Right now only black lives are being targeted, jailed, and killed so we must focus on healing 400+ years of institutionalized racism – and ALL change begins WITHIN our hearts and minds.

I am using this time look deep within my own soul to any and all unconscious biases or prejudices I have and seeking ways I can be part of the solution.

I've been reflecting all week on all the things I can do without risking my life; things all white people take for granted.

No one clutches their handbag when I walk past …

No one assumes I’m dangerous because of the color of my skin …

I don't fear that my 13-year-old son won't make it to adulthood …

I’ve had opportunities in life simply not available to many of my brown and black sisters and brothers …

It's a process, and there are many layers of healing.  It's vital we all hold a mirror up to ourselves … with compassion, with kindness, with understanding.

When we consider what kind of company we’re building with Podopolo, we’re walking our talk on our values and we believe #BlackLivesMatter. We are consciously choosing to build a vibrantly diverse culture, so from the outset we can:

  • Evolve and celebrate a truly inclusive and diverse culture and team
  • Leverage our pledge to donate 10% of our earnings to businesses, charities and organizations making a difference to end racial inequality
  • Encourage podcasters on the Podopolo podcasting network to create quests and community challenges to make a positive impact on our communities and world.

This I know:

Protests are a vital part of our democracy. Our progress has come from protest – whether for the environment, LGBTQ rights, women's rights, or the civil rights movement of the 60s.

I also know too that violence is not the answer – from police, protesters or insecure presidents.  It breeds more of the same.

Love is the answer.

Love requires all of us to understand with empathy the suffering of so many and to stand for true equality and justice.

At Podopolo we stand with our black sisters and brothers in doing and being all we can be to end racial discrimination, reform policing and our institutions, and finally create a fair and just world where we are truly equal under the law.