Gizmodo’s Michael Nunez published a screenshot Thursday of a Mark Zuckerberg post to an internal Facebook group. It asks employees to stop crossing out “Black Lives Matter” on the walls of its headquarters.
Zuckerberg scolded employees for the “malicious” defacement and stated that the company is investigating the situation.
According to Zuckerberg’s post, this sort of incident has occurred more than once.
“There have been several recent instances of people crossing out “black lives matter” and writing “all lives matter” on the walls at MPK,” he said in the post. “This has been a deeply hurtful and tiresome experience for the black community and really the entire Facebook community.”
The post refers to the signature wall at Facebook’s headquarters. Employees use it to write positive affirmations and other messages at work. Here’s an Instagram shot of an employee writing on the wall:
There’s also at least one Black Lives Matter poster on the wall at Facebook headquarters:
Black Lives Matter is a grassroots movement of activists responding to violence against black Americans, particularly by police. The name gained prominance as a hashtag (#blacklivesmatter) after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. It was later used as a chant during protests against the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by a white police officer.
It has grown over time into the name and rallying cry of a decentralized activist movement behind many protests against police violence and other issues facing the black American community.
The slogan “all lives matter” is often used in attempts to dodge and short-circuit the arguments of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The most interesting part of Zuckerberg’s post is his discussion of why this behaviour is hurtful:
There are specific issues affecting the black community in the United States, coming from a history of oppression and racism. ‘Black lives matter” doesn’t mean other lives don’t — it’s simply asking that the black community also achieves the justice they deserve.
We’ve never had rules around what people can write on our walls — we expect everybody to treat each other with respect. Regardless of the content or location, crossing out something means silencing speech, or that one person’s speech is more important than another’s. Facebook should be a service and a community where everyone is treat with respect.
Only 2% of Facebook’s employees are black, including only 1% of the company’s tech workforce. The company has tried to address the issue, bringing on a director of diversity in 2013. However, it appears to be an uphill battle against the overwhelming tide of Silicon Valley whiteness. Zuckerberg recently had to publicly rebuff a board member who tweeted in favour of colonialism.
Facebook declined to comment for this story.
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