CEO Blog

Time to Act

COVID-19 has made all our worlds smaller, but for the Black American community, the world gets even smaller. For many, this is a crisis within a crisis within a crisis.

For Black Americans:

  • The unemployment rate has doubled to near 17%
  • The death rate from COVID-19 is 3x the rate of white people
  • 25% cannot pay their May rent
  • The incarceration rate is more than 5x the rate of white people
  • And they are 2x more likely to be shot and killed

And this is all happening at the same time. Simply leaving their home creates significant risks for Black Americans, including the risk of being killed by law enforcement, who are meant to protect society.

Over the last decade, social media has made clear to the world that which has been happening for centuries: Black Americans are being killed.

Freddie Gray walking in his neighborhood. Michael Brown shopping. Christian Cooper threatened while watching birds. Journalist Omar Jimenez doing his job. Jogger Ahmaud Arbery. EMT Breonna Taylor sleeping. And George Floyd killed by the police.

Here are the words of George Floyd being killed.

You can hear him pleading for his life, over and over again while a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes. Three other police officers stood by, participated and watched:

Please man.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
Momma, I’m through.
I can’t breathe.

I watched this video of his death, and it filled me with anger, disgust and sadness. It needs to fill us with action. America has made many advances in its history, but there are still two Americas. One group of Americans is denied human rights, civil rights, education, healthcare and a common platform to pursue the American dream. Until we confront and smash these inequalities, nothing will change.

We have made great advances in gender equity, equal pay and marriage equality; we must change the systematic machine that has caused injustice, hatred and racism.

We must continue to speak up and speak out, and do so with strength, with clarity and with peaceful resistance.

I am proud to be part of OpenText, a global organization that believes in merit, advancement, inclusion and diversity. When we put these ideals into motion, we can bring into reach, one America.

Today, I am supporting those who are defending, educating and empowering Black communities. Today, I made a donation to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Today I am acting. I hope you will too.

Mark J. Barrenechea
OpenText CEO & CTO

For Further Reading and References:

Mark Barrenechea

Mark J. Barrenechea is OpenText's Vice Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer. A prominent thought leader, he has extensive experience in information technology and his vision is to enable the digital world to help transform organizations.

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