This is a moment in our history when the systemic racism in this country is on full display. George Floyd’s violent death at the hands of a Minnesota police officer is the most recent tragedy in a pattern of police brutality and violence against black men and black women - Ahmaud Arbery killed in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Louisville and we are less than a year from when Atatiana Jefferson was killed by a Fort Worth police officer in her own home. This all comes just a few weeks after the five-year anniversary of the homicide of Freddie Gray in the custody of Baltimore police.
The death of George Floyd has again vividly exposed systemic racism and injustice that has long existed in America. Throughout the course of the past few days, many activists and influencers in our communities have reminded us all of words like those of Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
As LifeStraw, we choose not to be neutral. We choose to stand in solidarity with our black community, our black colleagues, and our black friends and call for justice and accountability.
As a public health company we have always held human health and human life as a top priority. We fight every day to provide access to safe water to those whom most need it around the world. Yet what we often have not said and what lays implicit is that racism plays a massive role in the inequalities that persist between those with access to safe water and those without. Systemic racism is a public health crisis.
Sometimes it takes a tipping point for us to acknowledge and fight for a cause that is critical to our community. I wish that tipping point didn’t have to be the tragic violence and death of another black man and the pain and suffering of another family and another community.
As a company, we recognize our responsibility to step up. We will begin the hard work of ensuring we are stepping up to be anti-racist when we encounter systemic and overt racism that impacts the communities where we work across the globe. We will invite discussion, education and we will use the words racism to describe the underlying factors affecting these communities. And we commit to learning and being better because we know that being anti-racist is a work in progress. We will continue to seek out minority owned businesses to partner with and build hiring practices that ensure a diverse and safe workplace at LifeStraw. We will also continue to support and amplify the voices of our community that say it best and most authentically through their words and through their actions. That means right now we will be making contributions to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and to Color of Change and we will also continue to examine more meaningful ways we can support organizations like these in the long-term.
We must stand against racism. We must stand together
Alison Hill, CEO LifeStraw
Mikkel Vestergaard, Owner, LifeStraw