Dear Stem Community,
I’d like to start by stating what should be obvious, yet still needs to be said: Black lives matter. The lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and so many others were stolen by police brutality and anti-Blackness, and these murders continue a long legacy of violence against Black people in the United States that is unacceptable.
Stem stands for clarity, accountability, and independence. We see a terrible historic pattern where police are rarely held accountable for excessive use of force and opacity is used as a tool of oppression. We feel a responsibility to speak up about these injustices for myriad reasons, one of which being simply that Stem would not exist without Black art and neither would the music industry at large.
On #BlackoutTuesday, we recognized #theshowmustbepaused to focus on how we can commit to ongoing substantive action to fight against anti-Blackness, racism, and white supremacy. We spent half the day learning from texts and seminars by Black scholars and activists, and half the day discussing what we learned and developing our company’s response together. I challenged myself and our team to brainstorm actions we can take both internally and externally, acknowledging that we must start in our own office.
I am incredibly motivated by my team’s united commitment to this important work and Stem’s unique position to contribute, as a platform focused on expanding economic opportunities for independent artists. Here are the actions we are committing to:
- MORE SEATS AT THE TABLE: Our focus on gender diversity at Stem has not been equally met by a focus on hiring Black executives and engineers. We are creating an employee committee to support our people operations team who will actively source Black candidates to fill new roles. We are also creating an employee committee led by and for employees of color with a focus on auditing our efforts to ensure inclusion in shaping our product and policies.
- BUILDING GIVING INTO OUR PRODUCT: We have a unique opportunity to integrate this work into our product. This month, we will create shareholder accounts for the following organizations: We The Protesters, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Bail Project, and Black Visions Collective. Stem users can allocate a percentage of their earnings towards these accounts to support these causes. We believe we must use our platform to uplift organizations that are dedicated to enacting change. Stay tuned for more details on this program.
- PUTTING OUR MONEY TO WORK: Stem and our staff are raising over $22,000 for Black Lives Matter LA, to support their non-violent direct action, policy work, movement building, community self care, and creative engagement, as well as We The Protesters, the organization that created Campaign Zero, a data-informed platform presenting comprehensive solutions to end police violence in America.
- SUPPORT OF BLACK-OWNED BUSINESS: The way we operate our company and spend our overhead directly impacts the Black community. Moving forward, we are committed to working with more Black-owned businesses for company catering, office supplies, and collaborative brand initiatives.
- LOCAL ACTION: We are committed to increasing our allocated time and resources to volunteer work with organizations such as Black Girls Code and the LA Chamber of Commerce’s Bixel Exchange.
- ONGOING COMMITMENT: In addition to the time set aside for our other actions, Stem will devote two days a year to engage in discourse, educate ourselves, and put efforts towards our ongoing anti-racist work. We understand that racial justice is not something that can be solved in a day or a week but will take sustained action, education, and a continued commitment.
This marks only the beginning of our work, but I felt it was important to share with you our progress so far. Thank you for being a part of our network. We welcome your feedback about how we can continue to do better.
Milana Rabkin Lewis
Here are a list of seminars, texts, and films we engaged with on Tuesday.