Google Pledges $11.5 Million to Make Sure Black Lives Matter
Internet giant Google has pledged to donate $11.5 million in grants to four organizations combating racial disparities in the criminal justice system. While Google would not phrase their grants in this way, one of the recipients has praised the Black Lives Matter movement as "civil rights demonstrations," and the cause of these organizations does overlap with the Black Lives Matter movement.
"There is significant ambiguity regarding the extent of racial bias in policing and criminal sentencing," Justin Steele, principal with Google.org, the company's philanthropic arm, told USA Today. "We must find ways to improve the accessibility and usefulness of information."
Steele presented the grants as a way to quantify the racial disparity in the justice system. It is hard to know the full extent to which black people are treated differently than white people. Even South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott has shared personal stories of "frustration" with cops, in the nation's capital!
"It's hard to measure justice," Phillip Atiba Goff, co-founder and president at the Center for Policing Equity (which will receive $5 million, the largest share of Google's grants), told USA Today. "In policing, data are so sparse and they are not shared broadly. The National Justice Database is an attempt to measure justice so that people who want to do the right thing can use that metric to lay out a GPS for getting where we are trying to go. That's really what we see Google as being a key partner in helping us do."
Naturally, USA Today had to report that Google "is trying to address the racial imbalance in the demographics of its workforce. Hispanics make up 3% of Google employees and African Americans 2%." USA Today likely omitted the number of whites (61 percent), because the number of Asians (30 percent) is so high, according to a 2014 PBS report.
But rather than confirming a racial bias against minorities, the fact that Google, a majority-white company, is nevertheless heavily subsidizing efforts to quantify racial disparities in criminal justice should be heartening, especially to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Indeed, one of the groups Google is supporting, the Equal Justice Initiative, explicitly endorsed Black Lives Matter in one of its videos, calling the group "civil rights demonstrators." That video linked slavery to mass incarceration, lamenting that "many states celebrate the era of slavery with Confederate holidays and by honoring the defenders and architects of slavery, while ignoring the history of enslavement."
This is a horrifying insult to all those who commemorate the Civil War and view the battle as a fight over states' rights. While I consider their viewpoints incorrect, I do not dismiss as racist those who commemorate the Confederacy, and neither should the Equal Justice Initiative.