Target: Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
Goal: Demand solidarity for others in the industry who are likely to suffer from a Trump presidency.
Prior to the election, Silicon Valley appeared united against Donald Trump. Representatives from the tech industry had spoken out against Trump’s xenophobia, bigotry, and anti-science nonsense for a year as they watched his campaign unfold. Even Mark Zuckerberg, the typically apolitical CEO of Facebook, went so far as to make a public comment against Trump’s campaign, noting “fearful voices talking about walls.” However, all this changed abruptly on election night, when it became clear that Trump had won the presidency. Zuckerberg, along with Chris Sacca, a venture capitalist, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, switched tunes completely when the results were in. Bezos, who had previously stated that Donald Trump’s behavior “erodes democracy,” tweeted his congratulations to Mr. Trump on election night and wished him “great success in his service to the country.”
Two things that Zuckerberg, Sacca, and Bezos all have in common: they are all white men, and their ventures are not likely to be endangered by Trump’s policy goals. On the contrary, they stand to gain from favorable relations with the White House, even when a racist, sexist, unscientific man is sitting in it.
Trump’s policies, if they become reality, threaten an uncertain fate for immigrants in the United States, which could be damaging to many tech companies that have become successful due to immigrant talent – to say nothing of the disruption of people’s lives. Trump’s plans also oppose clean energy and environmentally progressive development, putting a damper on tech companies and innovations aimed at social impact. Catherine Bracey, co-founder of the TechEquity Collective, questions how people in the realm of “civic technology” will be able to continue their work under a Trump presidency. Leslie Miley, the director of engineering at Slack, who also happens to be a black man, has also commented: “They’re all white men who are saying that. They have nothing to lose.”
While there’s nothing wrong with keeping an open mind, there is something very wrong with turning your back on those in danger because you prefer to be aligned with power. Tell tech leaders that there is no need to be combative, but the problematic things Donald Trump has said and done continue to be problematic now that he’s been elected, and they’ll continue to be problematic when he’s in office.
Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,
I am writing to express my disappointment in your change of tune following the presidential election. Prior to the election, it seemed that Silicon Valley was united against a presidential candidate who stood for bigotry, sexism, and xenophobia, and against scientific progress. Now that this candidate has been elected, you have become conciliatory, and I’d like to know why.
Of course, I am not asking anyone to be petty or turn their backs on our democracy – what I do have a problem with, however, is turning your back on those who stand to lose when you do not. In the words of Leslie Miley, “you don’t have to worry about stop and frisk, you don’t have to worry about being deported, you don’t have to worry about being Muslim.”
Donald Trump’s words are no less hateful than they were before he was elected – in fact they’re a lot more real now. If you truly believe any of the things you said before the election, you must stand in solidarity with your partners in the tech industry who stand to lose quite a lot under a Trump presidency. I urge you to continue speaking out for what you know is right.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Daniel Benavides