Some Thoughts for Our Times

I have wanted to comment on the current state of affairs in our country, but the words have been escaping me. These are tough times, times that many of us have never witnessed first hand.

A pandemic is something that has not been seen for a century and in our highly interconnected world, it has been tough to bring under control. The stress and uncertainly of national lockdowns may have forever changed our world, even as many areas try to resume some sense of normalcy. In this country, perhaps fueled by extreme views from all sides, the response has been inconsistent and frustrating for many.

For me, I choose to wear a mask whenever I am out in public. For my entire life, I have been required to wear a shirt and shoes to enter most public places in the name of public health. To add a mask until such time as we have a vaccine for this threat is not an inconvenience nor an incursion on my rights. It saddens me to see others not wearing masks as the mask is to protect others more so than ourselves. I was raised to care deeply for others and this is an easy way for me to do so.

With the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic, we are now faced with the massive outcry against the tragic murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer entrusted with the safety of the public he served. Before I go any further, I want to state that I am a white minority and the father of a police officer; a good police officer. One who told me within hours of the tragedy that if a similar act were to take place while they were on duty that they would act immediately and decisively to stop it and protect the victim and call out the bad officer. There are millions of police officers who feel similarly, so it concerns me that we not demonize police universally. Change is needed, to me mostly in training and oversight, but calls to defund or dismantle are extreme. As a white minority, I have experienced discrimination, but nothing close to what the African American and other communities continue to feel to this day. I can't possible understand but I can empathize and support.

I unequivocally support the peaceful protests throughout this nation. I equally condemn the senseless violence and looting and the agitators who are trying to exploit the situation for twisted reasons. We must not remain silent on this. Our nation is deeply hurt and rightly so. I empathize with the protests and we all need to stand up and be part of long overdue change. What that change is, I do not know, but it is necessary for this nation to survive.

As a technologist and student of political science I am also compelled to warn against the flames of hate. My disciplines have collided with significant force during these current events, both the pandemic and the racial inequality that plagues our society. Be very aware that everyone from fringe hate groups to nation states are watching and participating in our domestic struggles. That participation is designed to inflame, divide and magnify all to destabilize this great nation. The hacking that occurred during the last election cycle may wind up seeming like child's play compared to what's taking place on the cyber battlefield today.

The extremes are being pushed to the corners by these forces as well as their own. The controversies and conspiracy theories around the pandemic are, in some cases, originating from abroad and being pushed into our society unchecked. Similarly the strains in our society highlighted by Mr. Floyd's tragic murder are providing fresh fuel for both domestic and foreign actors who want to harm our society and system of government. As responsible business leaders and members of society, we simply must not remain silent any longer.

I have tried to convey my thoughts and concerns, clearly, empathetically, rationally and responsibly. I may undoubtedly offend someone, but that is not my intent as anyone who knows me will confirm. I hope I will not lose subscribers or friends for these thoughts, but if I do, I do. I will not remain silent.

I'd like to close with some heartful and meaningful words from Yvette Steele. Yvette manages the CompTIA Advancing Tech Talent & Diversity Community and speaks from first person experience. I find her words timely, important and worth your time to consider.

Stay safe and healthy everyone.

Response and Reflection on Racial and Social Injustice

Like many of you, I started my week in a state of mind where I have never been. My news feed was on a seemingly never-ending cycle of images from my neighborhood of 20-plus years filled with vandalized properties and devastated friends who owned local businesses. My heart broke for neighbors and my three young African American daughters looking for the hope in their future. I am deeply disturbed by the panic in their faces and voices as they seek ways to cope. While we deal with our personal feelings and experiences from this pandemic to the senseless death of George Floyd, there are important questions that must be addressed. How can we help one another heal, and how can we impact our culture in a positive and constructive way to end the repetitive acts of racial injustice plaguing our lives? We need things to change and we need them to change now.

While the solution to inequality is complex and multi-faceted, I struggle to understand why the hate and ignorance of a few consistently overshadow and overpower the love of the many. I have a career in technology—an industry built by problem solvers and dominated by the majority culture. I am very fortunate to be surrounded by caring colleagues and allies. However, we need more. My role is leading a community focused on advancing diversity in the technology industry. There’s power in the collective wisdom of diversity that can help drive the change we need for a better future. It was the power of diversity and the collective wisdom of the NASA team: Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughn, Robert Gilruth and others that led to the success of USA’s first space launch in 1962 during an era of segregation, accepted racism and sexism.

Technology impacts the lives of all and were it not for its ability to capture and disseminate information, justice would never be served for George Floyd and many others. Now that the nation is listening, let’s commission both our collective, diverse and talented ideas and brainpower as well as the innovative technologies we’ve created to design and implement new, unique, social solutions that broaden perspectives, connect people to new communities and cultures different from their own. If not now, when?

Yvette Steele

Director, Member Communities, CompTIA

Advancing Tech Talent & Diversity Community