Tim Cook asks people to ‘stand together’ against racism in open letter


Tim Cook called for Ohio State University grads to embrace hope in a fearful time during his virtual commencement address.
Tim Cook's letter addresses "deeply rooted discrimination" in America.
Photo: Ohio State University

With the United States reeling after the videotaped death of George Floyd while in police custody, Apple CEO Tim Cook penned an open letter imploring people to “stand together” and acknowledge the reality of racism and “deeply rooted discrimination” in the country.

The letter, titled “Speaking up on racism,” comes after more than a week of protests and rioting. It appears at the top of Apple’s homepage today. You can read the whole thing below.

Tim Cook: ‘Speaking up on racism’

With his open letter, Cook joins other tech leaders speaking out against racism and police brutality.

Here’s the letter:

“Right now, there is a pain deeply etched in the soul of our nation and in the hearts of millions. To stand together, we must stand up for one another, and recognize the fear, hurt, and outrage rightly provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd and a much longer history of racism.

That painful past is still present today — not only in the form of violence, but in the everyday experience of deeply rooted discrimination. We see it in our criminal justice system, in the disproportionate toll of disease on Black and Brown communities, in the inequalities in neighborhood services and the educations our children receive.

While our laws have changed, the reality is that their protections are still not universally applied. We’ve seen progress since the America I grew up in, but it is similarly true that communities of color continue to endure discrimination and trauma.

I have heard from so many that you feel afraid — afraid in your communities, afraid in your daily lives, and, most cruelly of all, afraid in your own skin. We can have no society worth celebrating unless we can guarantee freedom from fear for every person who gives this country their love, labor, and life.

At Apple, our mission has been and always will be to create technology that empowers people to change the world for the better. We’ve always drawn strength from diversity, welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world, and strived to build an Apple that is inclusive of everyone.

But we must do more. We commit to continuing our work to bring critical resources and technology to underserved school systems. We commit to continuing to fight the forces of environmental injustice — like climate change — which disproportionately harm Black communities and other communities of color. We commit to looking inward and pushing progress forward on inclusion and diversity, so that every great idea can be heard. And we’re donating to organizations including the Equal Justice Initiative, which challenge racial injustice and mass incarceration.

To create change, we have to reexamine our own views and actions in light of a pain that is deeply felt but too often ignored. Issues of human dignity will not abide standing on the sidelines. To the Black community — we see you. You matter and your lives matter.

This is a moment when many people may want nothing more than a return to normalcy, or to a status quo that is only comfortable if we avert our gaze from injustice. As difficult as it may be to admit, that desire is itself a sign of privilege. George Floyd’s death is shocking and tragic proof that we must aim far higher than a “normal” future, and build one that lives up to the highest ideals of equality and justice.

In the words of Martin Luther King, ‘Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.’

With every breath we take, we must commit to being that change, and to creating a better, more just world for everyone.


Tim Cook on George Floyd’s death

This marks the second time Cook addressed the issues raised by the videotaped death of Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after Minneapolis police subdued him on a city street. Derek Chauvin, the white officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, has been charged with second-degree murder. Prosecutors on Wednesday also charged three other officers involved in the incident with aiding and abetting murder.

Earlier this week, Cook sent a memo to Apple employees covering many of the same topics as in Thursday’s open letter. In the note, Cook expressed his wishes for a “better, more just world.” He also said Apple will make charitable donations to groups such as the Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama nonprofit that works for prison reform.

Now Cook is taking that same message to the wider public, courtesy of Apple’s heavily trafficked homepage.

Throughout his time as Apple CEO, Cook has talked about the importance of equality. It is a topic deeply ingrained in him, and one that he is more than happy to speak out about.


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