Christopher Lezama

Today I was in my feelings and found it really hard to focus. I had to bring these issues up with my department today. The convos went well, but I wanted to say more. I wrote the following which will be shared with an ERG at Samsung tomorrow. I am grateful to be able to be able to address these topics in a corporate setting and I wish for others to be courageous leaders and engage others on such topics. I hope many of you find this enlightening, engaging, and worth sharing. I look forward to your feedback:

I write this post as recent events are weighing heavily on my mind and heart and I would like to share and educate. This is a bit long, but I hope you will endure the post as I believe this to be important.

This past weekend in NYC, a White woman called the police on a Black man in Central Park. The man, Christian Cooper, had asked the woman to put her dog on a leash because in the area of the park they were in, it is law that all dogs be on a leash with signs posted everywhere. The lady, Amy Cooper, became very aggressive towards Christian at which point he pulled out his cell phone and began recording her. He calmly asked her to not come any closer to him and again to put her dog on a leash. Amy called 911 and instantly acted as the victim, becoming hysterical on the phone and accusing Christian of threatening her with violence. In the process, she almost choked her dog to death. CNN REPORT

In Minneapolis, a Black man named George Floyd was killed by a police officer after being called by a store employee accusing George of writing a bad check. The officer kept his knee on George’s neck for 7 minutes while he pleaded as he couldn’t breathe. George eventually lost consciousness. He later died. This was caught on video by a cell phone. Another CNN REPORT

These two acts were unnecessary and racist. It is being captured and made public more and more by devices that we create and sell. However, this problem persists and we all, each and every one of us, have a responsibility to confront racism and inequity in all forms. Amy Cooper was a VP at Franklin Templeton and an alum of the University of Chicago Booth school of business. Many people here at Samsung are likely 2-3 connections away from Amy, if not already a direct connection with her. What happened to George could have happened to Christian if he had not left the park, simply because he calmly asked Amy to obey the law and put her dog on a leash.

Franklin Templeton took swift action, immediately putting Amy on leave, performed an investigation, and as of today has terminated Amy’s employment. This has been seen as a great response by the company to those in my social circles. All 4 officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been terminated as of today as well, hopefully further action is taken to provide justice to George and his family. Amy’s life is likely ruined, and George’s life is gone. None of this is necessary and it just causes pain for so many.

There are many things each of us can do to help with this issue. Here are just a few I can seem to form words on at the moment. I urge everyone to confront racism in your circles when you see it. If you hear someone you know make a racist statement, call them out for it and let them know this is not appropriate, it is racist, and it is against your moral code of ethics. Not doing so is an essential co-sign of the statement and lets people think that this is ok.

We live in an environment where police involvement with Black people can be very dangerous. In this regard, I would like each of you to acknowledge a few things and think differently as a result:

1. Racism is real and extremely pervasive within our country.

2. Black people are 9 out of 10 times seen as the aggressor, even if that is not the case.

3. When police are called, it usually turns out negative if not deadly for the Black person even when it’s a different party in the wrong.

When it comes to calling the police to handle a situation, please think twice before doing so if there is a safe alternative resolution to the issue.

Lastly, I would like you to also acknowledge that there are numerous Black colleagues here at Samsung. Many of them are likely going through a lot of emotions as I am. This is a result of these cases and other recent tragedies of this nature such as Ahmaud Arbery (Yet Another CNN REPORT). Many are enraged, some are heartbroken, while others may feel numb. In most cases, we cannot stop thinking about this and it definitely impacts our ability to focus. Please treat your colleagues with a bit of compassion and understanding, especially if you see an unusual reduction in performance in these few days.

Be open to start and engage in conversations about these topics and make your Black colleagues feel seen and understood. Be supportive, be an ally. In a world where we are all virtual, you may not see the emotion on their faces, but they are definitely experiencing them. For those of you personally going through emotions along with me, my great friend and colleague shared this video from India Arie. Please continue to breathe! Thank you for reading and I hope we can all do our part to make our world a bit safer and more equitable for all.