I don't understand the Black Lives Matter diversity and inclusion post.

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BradSmithWV
BradSmithWV Expensify Customer Posts: 3 Expensify Newcomer

I read the post at https://community.expensify.com/discussion/7053/expensifys-commitment-to-diversity-and-inclusion . I applaud your support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other conferences and organizations helping the black community particularly in the technology field. But your post does not actually answer why you support Black Lives Matter since Expensify is a capitalist company serving capitalist customers and Black Lives Matter is an organization that is rooted in Marxist ideology. While I am sure that virtually all of your customers support equality and diversity, I am equally sure that many do not support radicals with a Marxist ideology. So congratulations on your thoughtful support of black colleges and blacks entering tech oriented careers. But the BLM organization does not support these same organizations and it seems your inclusion of BLM along with those other originations is a huge misunderstanding of what is driving the large number of questions from your customers.

My question is, would you consider putting links to support historically black colleges and organizations that support college scholarships for the children of police officers killed in the line of duty instead of BLM?


Best regards,

Brad

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  • David Barrett
    David Barrett Expensify Team Posts: 38 Expensify Team
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    Hi Brad, thanks for writing. To clarify our view:

    1) BLM is not some small, centralized fringe organization. Rather, it is possibly the nation's largest grassroots movement, ever, supported by 2/3rd of the US population: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/03/us/george-floyd-protests-crowd-size.html

    2) Additionally, despite the coverage which focuses on ANTIFA's totally unacceptable violent campaign against authority of all kinds in Portland -- and mistakenly attributes that to BLM (even though the two movements only loosely overlap: ANTIFA supports BLM, but not the other way around) -- the protests organized by BLM leaders are overwhelmingly non-violent: https://acleddata.com/2020/08/31/us-crisis-monitor-releases-full-data-for-summer-2020/

    3) Every major BLM protest organization we've encountered is advocating non-violent protesting in support of some very basic human rights that most have taken for granted. Indeed, in our engagement with the protest leaders in Portland (which are the largest and most sustained protests), every leader summarized the goal in the same, succinct manner: "I just don't want to be murdered by cops." Which is hardly an extreme position to take. More on their non-violent objectives are here:

    https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/

    https://www.civilrightscollective.org/pdx/policy-demands/

    - https://www.brownhope.org/

    4) The BLM movement in Portland is specifically focused on passing this bill on 11/3: https://realpoliceaccountability.org/ I'm curious if you would agree with the need for additional citizen oversight, as summarized here: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-its-still-so-rare-for-police-officers-to-face-legal-consequences-for-misconduct/

    Regardless of whether we agree on BLM's reach and motives, do you agree that police should be subject to citizen oversight, and held as accountable to their actions as the citizens they oversee and protect?

    Thank you for writing!

    -david

    Founder and CEO of Expensify

  • BradSmithWV
    BradSmithWV Expensify Customer Posts: 3 Expensify Newcomer
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    David:

    Thank you for engaging in discussion, few in your position would. I do believe that the only way to address most social problems are to fairly and accurately assess the problem and have a conversation without fear of negative consequences for engaging. Only solutions that come thru the act of respectful dialog and trying to understand each other are lasting solutions.

    Reply to (1): Size doesn’t matter does it?  Seriously, the KKK is no small organization (thankfully much smaller than 50 years ago) so size shouldn’t be used to justify motives.

    Reply to (2): I’m seriously glad to see you condemn ANTIFA for what they are: “unacceptably violent”. I’m not sure that the word unacceptably is needed… any violence is unacceptable. While you condemn ANTIFA, I have yet to see anyone from BLM condemn the actions of ANTIFA and I see many in the House of Representatives even deny its existence. I have watched a number of interviews with BLM organizers on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC and have yet to see any condemnation for ANTIFA. Every one of those networks asked Trump to condemn similar right wing groups (which he did condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy in every form). However these news organizations would rather conflate the two groups than ask a BLM organizer if they will condemn ANTIFA.

    Reply to (3): Your link to https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/ is broken, because part of what they believe is broken. On this page (before they decided to hide more of what they believe) were statements like: “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and villages that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.” What makes this position so absurd is the extremely strong correlation between living in a safe home with a caring mother and father and avoiding incarceration for crime.  BLM sadly leaves fathers out of family.

    Reply to (4): I read all the internal links I could find on https://realpoliceaccountability.org/ and followed a few external links. I could not find any info on how the proposed bill would choose the board. Is it elected by the general population, are they excluding experienced law enforcement from being on the board? I couldn’t find anything regarding board appointments or elections. Granted, I’m the guy that can stare at the McDonalds menu for 5 minutes looking for the Frappe flavors while my wife points them out in two seconds so I could have missed it and hope someone will point it out if I did. However, I’m sure you wouldn’t want a board that consists of your worst and angriest customers having “final say” on your disciplinary actions if someone complains accurately or inaccurately about your conduct. I cannot answer your question due to not enough information being available regarding the makeup of the board.

    Concluding, I would say that police oversight in Portland has been tried many different ways over the decades, and the situation has not improved. Instead of concentrating on looking backward after problems arise, we should instead be finding the root cause of unarmed blacks being killed by police… it is not that difficult to see and fortunately is easy to prevent. Depending on who provides the numbers, between 8 and 13 unarmed blacks were killed by police in 2019 in the USA. Better officer training would not have prevented all of these. Defunding police would not have prevented all of these. Eliminating choke holds would not have prevented all of these. First using non-lethal options would not have prevented all of these. The one thing that would have prevented them is simple: Don’t resist arrest.  Guilty or not guilty, don’t resist arrest. Avoiding crime in the first place would be helpful, but don’t resist arrest. We should have commercials during sporting events, billboards, videos on social media, all forms of advertising saturating high crime communities explaining the proper way to behave when stopped, questioned, or placed under arrest. I teach this to my children because my children's lives matter. If Black Lives (killed by police) Matter, then let us do what makes sense to bring it to an end.

    Thanks for taking your time to discuss the topic, and I would be happy to continue the discussion online or offline.

    Best regards,

    Brad

  • David Barrett
    David Barrett Expensify Team Posts: 38 Expensify Team
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    Thanks for the response Brad. To respond to your points in turn:

    Re: Violence - I think you'll see I said "unacceptable" not "unacceptably". We agree entirely, no violence is acceptable.

    Re: "Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement" - Similarly, you are overlooking the most important word: "requirement". There's no evidence of trying to disrupt the "Western-prescribed nuclear family structure" (ie, the stereotypically "mom, dad, two and a half kids, and a dog"). Rather, they are trying to disrupt the policies that implicitly require this family structure. For example, they are trying to ease support for multi-generational families that are common in immigrant communities (which have their own unique needs that our policies aren't well suited to support). Said another way, they are trying to embrace and support a diversity of "family structures" to make this nation more inclusive of a broader range of people. And I for one think that this kind of inclusiveness is at the heart of what makes America great.

    Re: Size - The point I was attempting to make is that the BLM movement is so large, and so genuinely grassroots, that it has no central leadership "calling the shots" or even speaking on behalf of more than a tiny corner of it at any point in time. Even the founders of the BLM movement from many years back play an extremely limited role, and speaking from our experience working with Portland protestors, have no apparent involvement or followers here: I truly have never heard their names mentioned once. I understand the desire to have a singular voice to talk with -- and I fully appreciate the unsatisfying nature of trying to make sense of an amorphous group of a hundred million loosely aligned people. But that's what it is, so if you want to understand it, you need to understand how it works in reality, not how you would prefer it works in theory.

    Re: BLM condemning ANTIFA - Given the lack of central voice, I'm not sure who would be in a position to condemn ANTIFA in a way that would satisfy you. Furthermore, you are asking this nonexistent central voice to "prove a negative" -- to prove they don't support something that they have never claimed to support. I was going to say that this would be like asking for evidence that frisbee golfers don't support fracking ("Not once do I see them disavowing it!"), but in all likelihood the frisbee golfers are probably more centrally organized than a BLM movement 100x its size.

    Going further, you say "However these news organizations would rather conflate the two groups than ask a BLM organizer if they will condemn ANTIFA." -- which I take it you mean to say that in the many interviews you've watched, BLM organizers haven't even been asked about ANTIFA, so weren't even given the opportunity to disavow it. As someone who has spoken often on national prime time news, it's a pretty daunting exercise to "change the narrative" and comment on something you weren't asked about. So is it reasonable to blame these local BLM leaders for not commenting on something that they don't support, that they haven't actually been asked about?

    Re: https://realpoliceaccountability.org/ - Please see the full ballot initiative for more information on the specifics. As for your comment that "However, I’m sure you wouldn’t want a board that consists of your worst and angriest customers having “final say” on your disciplinary actions if someone complains accurately or inaccurately about your conduct." -- I hope you aren't saying that citizens in the community the police serve, who pay their salaries with their taxes, are their "worst and angriest customers". I think it's more accurate to say that they are in fact their employers. That said, even imagine for a moment that the people they "protect and serve" are in fact their angriest customers. Who's fault is that? Going back to what makes America great, I think citizen oversight of our police and military goes back to the very earliest days, and is something to be celebrated and protected.

    For example, did you know that in Portland the police union has a contract that says that police cannot be disciplined in a way that would be "embarrassing" to the person being disciplined? Have you ever seen an "anti-embarrassment clause" in any employment contract -- especially one for people who are literally licensed to kill people? Here's a great article on this outrageous police contract if you'd like to learn more.

    Re: "Don't resist arrest" - You conclude with a rather startling suggestion, that the heart of all this is a propensity for some populations to resist arrest more than others, and that everything else is a downstream consequence of that. There's a lot to unpack in that very succinct claim -- an alluring claim that attempts to reduce the multi-generational effects of hundreds of years of systemic racism down to a basic, if not outright "racist" claim at least "racially generalized" claim. But rather than doing it myself I'd like to point to two different articles:

    The first is a Harvard Study (though I shouldn't have to say this, I will: only 13% black, and 74% non-Democrat) concluding that racism existed at every single stage of law enforcement, the compounding effects of which resulted in increasingly strict patrolling, increasingly violent police response, and increasingly severe sentences. If you are going to reject this study's conclusions, can you point to any more methodical, broadly-based study that contradicts it? Or do you use a different technique for understanding the world that isn't based on evidence that can be cited and shared with me?

    Additionally, I would urge you to read the story of Breonna Taylor, killed in her own home in the dead of night, by unmarked police who literally broke down her door -- without announcing that they were police when asked (as recorded by the 911 call by her boyfriend reporting the "break in"), who opened fire (indeed, sprayed bullets through her window blindly) in response to someone legally "standing their ground" with a fully licensed handgun. There was no "arrest" to be resisted, there was no crime in progress, nobody called the police. They just showed up and murdered her.


    Regardless, I can respect if you feel that there is no problem to be solved -- I'm not attempting to convince you there is. I'm merely trying to convince you that the BLM protestors (along with 2/3 of the US population) do think there is a police brutality problem to be solved, and they are exercising our nation's most sacred right of free speech to engage with our world's best political system to solve it.

    Whether you agree or disagree with them, I hope you can support and celebrate their right to assemble and champion what they believe in, and respect their genuine motives. I would suggest that to do anything less is anti-American, at its core.

    -david

    Founder and CEO of Expensify

  • BradSmithWV
    BradSmithWV Expensify Customer Posts: 3 Expensify Newcomer
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    There is a lot to unpack in your last post but I’ll begin with something we sort-of agree on: The comment about size and no central leadership calling the shots is one problem that many including myself have with the BLM movement. In your post you rightly said “I fully appreciate the unsatisfying nature of trying to make sense of an amorphous group of a hundred million loosely aligned people”. This couldn’t be more true as some people identifying as BLM organizers have declared in interviews on national television that “sometimes violence is necessary” and “we will burn this system down”.  Others have confused organization using the BLM name as official 501(c)(3) organization such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft while not affiliated with the for profit BLM founders who promote Marxism and other agendas that have nothing to do with the type of activities you mention that local BLM supports in Portland. BLM is a confusing landscape at best.

    Regarding your note about ANTIFA, my point was that when interviewing BLM “members”, “organizers” or whatever, in every case, conservative or liberal leaning media discuss violence with them.  Violence was a topic.  In most cases, the BLM representative claims they were part of “peaceful demonstrations” while refusing to acknowledge there was any violence instead of taking the opportunity to acknowledge it and condemn it. So the viewers must conclude that (a) the person was unaware of what was going on around them or (b) they don’t define shooting, looting, burning, kicking, hitting, threatening, or killing as violence. In either case this is concerning.

    Thank you for the link to the new oversight board ballot initiative. I see it does exclude ANY police, retired police, or family of police on the board. This doesn’t seem like a good way to foster discussion and gain insight on how to make improvements. But if this is what the people of Portland want, it is what they deserve to have. It will not be any more successful at making the community safer than any of the other well meaning boards of the last 3 or 4 decades. I am no union supporter in general but I find your comment about the police union and the “anti-embarrassment” clause very interesting. I have always tried to administer discipline without causing the employee embarrassment because my goal in discipline is for learning to take place. I seriously doubt that having the right to embarrass police is the best way to making black people in Portland safer but again, if this is what Portland wants I certainly believe in democracy.

    I do think education on how to behave while being stopped, questioned, or placed under arrest will do much more to help the kinds of things the BLM movement seems to care about than a board with the power to embarrass or fire police.  Your response to this suggestion is classic modern (left) debate tactic. Instead of commenting on how this education would or wouldn’t help, you proceed to first misrepresent what I said, then to condemn me for that misrepresentation. You say that I suggested there “is a propensity for some populations to resist arrest more than others” and that this somehow makes me a racist.  We’ll, I never suggested race plays a part in this “resisting arrest is dangerous” idea at all. FBI data shows that nearly identical percentage of blacks and whites are killed while resisting arrest. Suggesting that we should teach people to show respect, self-control and compliance in interactions with a police officer isn’t racist, it is kindness. I educate my white children on how to behave in a circumstance involving the police because I love them, and I will educate my white and mixed-race grandchildren the same because I love them. This doesn’t make me racist, it makes me a good father and grandfather. When you dismiss this suggestion as racist instead of considering how it would benefit all who come in contact with the police, you show that you care more about insulting people you disagree with more than you care about what happens to the young men or women in this situation.

    Additionally, I would urge YOU to read the story of Breonna Taylor, because you got a couple of things wrong. Grand jury testimony by both police and an independent witness establishes that the police did knock on the door and also did identify themselves as police. No murder took place, and accidental death did take place. After the police who knocked and identified themselves received no reply, they entered the home by breaking the locked door to execute the drug related search warrant. After the police entered, Kenneth Walker (Breonna’s boyfriend) shot one of the police in the dark and the police returned fire, tragically killing Breonna Taylor. 

    Finally you say if I can’t support and celebrate BLM’s right to assemble, champion what they believe, and respect their motives that this make me anti-American. I might argue that insulting someone because they don’t share your opinions could also be considered anti-American. I do celebrate their right to PEASEFULLY assemble 100%. But because BLM is in your words are “an amorphous group of a hundred million loosely aligned people” I cannot give them blanket respect because I have seen some behave respectfully, some behave very badly, and many who only condemn those in uniform instead of being consistent in condemning bad behavior regardless of what they wear or the color of their skin. I don’t respect racism in any form and I don’t respect being called racist for suggesting that teaching people (guilty or innocent) that complying with a police arrest is a safer alternative than resisting arrest.   

    Since your last post devolved into an intentionally poorly veiled exercise in calling me a racist and anti-American instead of actually addressing the merits or fallacies of my suggestion of education to help save lives, I don't think I need to spend more time on this as our goals are obviously different.

  • David Barrett
    David Barrett Expensify Team Posts: 38 Expensify Team
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    > In your post you rightly said “I fully appreciate the unsatisfying nature of trying to make sense of an amorphous group of a hundred million loosely aligned people”. This couldn’t be more true as some people identifying as BLM organizers have declared in interviews on national television that “sometimes violence is necessary” and “we will burn this system down”.

    I haven't seen that myself, can you link me to this? I'd genuinely like to watch them, and research which local chapters they are leading. Speaking from my experience working with the Portland BLM leaders, they absolutely disagree with that framing.


    > the for profit BLM founders who promote Marxism and other agendas that have nothing to do with the type of activities you mention that local BLM supports in Portland.

    I think only one of the founders was Marxist, and I haven't actually seen anything suggesting they are promoting Marxism for many years -- can you point me to the most recent interview you can cite that has them promoting Marxism? My sense is they have been singularly focused on reducing police brutality for years, but if that's not true I'd absolutely welcome evidence to the contrary.


    > In most cases, the BLM representative claims they were part of “peaceful demonstrations” while refusing to acknowledge there was any violence instead of taking the opportunity to acknowledge it and condemn it. So the viewers must conclude that (a) the person was unaware of what was going on around them or (b) they don’t define shooting, looting, burning, kicking, hitting, threatening, or killing as violence. In either case this is concerning.

    I'm having trouble visualizing what you mean here. Can you link me to an interview that you think demonstrates this point -- of BLM organizers either denying or somehow ignoring the violence? In my experience speaking with BLM leaders, they are actively opposed to the violence and view it as harmful to their constructive goals.


    > Thank you for the link to the new oversight board ballot initiative. I see it does exclude ANY police, retired police, or family of police on the board. This doesn’t seem like a good way to foster discussion and gain insight on how to make improvements.

    To clarify, do you agree with the notion of independent oversight? For example, every public company needs to have an "independent board of directors" -- in other words, an oversight board constructed of people who are explicitly unaffiliated with employees (ie, not an active or recent employee, nor explicitly tied via family member). So this isn't a new concept, this is a core staple of what it means to be an independent oversight board. Do you explicitly reject the notion of independent oversight as a general concept, or do you feel that it makes sense for public companies but *not* for groups with the legal authority to kill people?


    > I am no union supporter in general but I find your comment about the police union and the “anti-embarrassment” clause very interesting. I have always tried to administer discipline without causing the employee embarrassment because my goal in discipline is for learning to take place. I seriously doubt that having the right to embarrass police is the best way to making black people in Portland safer but again, if this is what Portland wants I certainly believe in democracy.

    To clarify, the real-world effect of the anti-embarrassment clause is to shield all police disciplinary records from public scrutiny. I agree, it would be inadequate to merely "embarrass" a law enforcement officer accused of, for example, murdering a citizen. The point is to create an independent oversight board (see above) and *also* equip that board with the necessary information to provide adequate oversight. Unfortunately, there are multiple layers of protections that shield law enforcement from oversight right now, and this ballot initiative is only the first of many to come. And we're only talking about Portland: thousands of cities have their own similar kinds of protections in place, the sum of which all contribute to the "Blue Wall of Silence" that prevents otherwise great officers from feeling comfortable speaking up.


    > I do think education on how to behave while being stopped, questioned, or placed under arrest will do much more to help the kinds of things the BLM movement seems to care about than a board with the power to embarrass or fire police. Your response to this suggestion is classic modern (left) debate tactic. Instead of commenting on how this education would or wouldn’t help, you proceed to first misrepresent what I said, then to condemn me for that misrepresentation.

    Ah, I'm genuinely sorry for misunderstanding and misrepresenting your perspective. I do agree, this sounds like really good training, and though I'm sure there are lots of delicate details to be resolved, I'd absolutely support constructive training of this in (for example) schools. Can you point me to any ballot initiatives or organizations that are promoting this?


    > You say that I suggested there “is a propensity for some populations to resist arrest more than others” and that this somehow makes me a racist. We’ll, I never suggested race plays a part in this “resisting arrest is dangerous” idea at all. FBI data shows that nearly identical percentage of blacks and whites are killed while resisting arrest.

    Can you link me to that data?  The Harvard study that... actually, it looks like I forgot to link it before?  Here it is: https://www.theroot.com/a-judge-asked-harvard-to-find-out-why-so-many-black-peo-1845017462  -- it tried to analyze basically every stage of policing, and found pretty statistically undeniable racism at nearly every level.  I don't know that it covers death at the hands of the police, but it would be pretty unusual if that one incredibly tragic interaction somehow bucked the trend.  Regardless, I'm eager to hear your data.


    > Additionally, I would urge YOU to read the story of Breonna Taylor, because you got a couple of things wrong. Grand jury testimony by both police and an independent witness establishes that the police did knock on the door and also did identify themselves as police.

    Can you link me to where you are getting evidence that they announced themselves? To be clear, they had a "no-knock" warrant that didn't require themselves to announce who they were (a warrant that has since been outlawed) -- are you saying that you believe despite them actively applying for a type of no-knock warrant that explicitly doesn't require them to announce themselves (there are other, presumably easier to get warrants that require announcement after all), they decided to anyway? As for a detailed summary I'm reading this NYT summary from 2 days ago:

    https://www.nytimes.com/article/breonna-taylor-police.html

    It doesn't say that the jury decided the police announced themselves, only that the police claimed that they did. The NYT investigated, and writes "In interviews with nearly a dozen neighbors, only one person said he heard the officers shout “Police!” a single time." -- and that person notably changed his story:

    https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/breonna-taylor/2020/09/28/breonna-taylor-case-witness-originally-said-lmpd-didnt-announce/3559784001/

    Furthermore, the most relevant witness -- Ms. Taylor's next door neighbor -- claims that there was no announcement:

    https://www.wlky.com/article/breonna-taylor-recordings-next-door-neighbor-says-police-did-not-identify-themselves-before-raid/34254007

    And most of all, there is a 911 recording showing that Ms. Taylor's boyfriend who fired the gun (Mr. Walker) at the very least didn't hear it -- unless you are suggesting he did hear it, and then in the chaos lied to the 911 line? So at a minimum it would seem that the police were ineffectual in announcing themselves.

    In the end, the absolute best that can be said is that the police announced themselves, precisely once, so quietly that virtually nobody (and possibly literally nobody) heard it -- but most importantly, not heard by the occupant of the house they immediately started blindly firing shots through the window. You surely can't be viewing this as a model example of good policing?


    > But because BLM is in your words are “an amorphous group of a hundred million loosely aligned people” I cannot give them blanket respect because I have seen some behave respectfully, some behave very badly

    I'd agree that we cannot give BLM "blanket respect". No group deserves that. But blanket respect and support aren't the same. I absolutely support our police, our armed services, and a wide number of groups that perform incredibly difficult, dangerous work to keep us safe here and abroad. But I (and I doubt you) would say you "blanket respect" every single member of our uniformed officers. All I'm trying to explain is why we (in general) support the BLM movement -- just as we support our law enforcement officers (ie, we do not support abolishing the police).


    In the end, I think we agree on the most important things: we want to see less violence from all sides.  And given that one of those sides is literally killing people without repercussion, I personally feel that the police -- even with as much respect as I have for them -- need more public citizen oversight in carrying out their difficult, critical function to society.  This is why we support https://realpoliceaccountability.org, and I'd encourage you to as well.

    Thanks for this great discussion, and I'm again, genuinely sorry for misunderstanding your point. I agree, blanket accusations of racism never help any discussion, and I apologize for suggesting otherwise.

  • davidb77380
    davidb77380 Expensify Customer Posts: 4 Expensify Newcomer
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    This thread proves what I’ve long suspected. Expensify’s CEO is a liberal kook.