Packback, as a united company, stands wholeheartedly against the injustice represented by the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade who died at the hands of police. We also stand with Ahmaud Arbery and Nina Pop, who were murdered in cold blood by members of their own community. There is ingrained systemic injustice in America that has held Black people down. We recognize this in institutions such as the police force, and we’ve studied it in the longstanding economic structure of our country. We stand in support of the thousands who are standing up for this injustice; including our Packback team members, professor partners, and students nationwide who have joined in protests.
While we are of course saddened by the destruction that has accompanied demonstratively peaceful protests, we are also not choosing “anger” as a response to the damage. Our anger, our grief, and our motivation are preserved strictly for the injustice that has sparked this. On this topic, we stand with Don Flesch, the store owner of Central Camera, whose three-generation historic camera shop was burned in Chicago just across the street from Packback’s headquarters. When asked if he was angry, Mr. Flesch beautifully declared, “No. I’m angry at what started it.” We’re saddened that demonstrations of peaceful protest, such as kneeling during a football game, were not only insufficient to enact change, but that they were levered as divisive, emotionally-triggering fodder by the highest level of authority in our Nation.
We mourn with the victims. We stand with our students and professors who have so courageously stood up for this, and we echo those voices.
And if we want to comment on–and create–system-wide change, we first need to look internally to systems we are most immediately a part of; our families, our friend groups, our companies, and our community.
Packback’s purpose states that “we exist to awaken and fuel the lifelong curiosity in every student.”
As an education startup working with hundreds of thousands of students across the country to help them engage with their own curiosity, we have a responsibility to promote anti-racism. And it is critical for us first to consider where racial disparities and lack of representation exist within our own organization. We still have much work to be done internally to make our own company a small reflection of the kind of world we want to live in. On that mission, over the coming days, our team is working internally to design additional and concrete steps that we plan to take to improve the inclusivity and diversity of our team. This work is being treated as a priority, and commitments must be accompanied by the corresponding accountability structure.
Outside of our own company dynamic, as an immediate step to lend our support to the Black community in this time of need, Packback is matching employee donations up to $5,000 to Campaign Zero, an organization driving specific policy proposals informed by data that reduce police violence. This can only be the start.
We stand with the Black community. We stand against racial injustice.
– Mike Shannon, Packback CEO