For four weeks, the leadership at Quad has prevented Periscope leadership and staff from expressing our beliefs as an agency and taking the urgent action necessary to address systemic racism.
On June 4th, Joel Quadracci issued a video statement saying that the murder of George Floyd and the resulting protests were a “wake-up” call, and that “it’s not going to get better until people like me, in my position, who think we do a lot to address the issue understand that a lot is not enough.” He pledged to do more and do better. Days later, he struck the words Black Lives Matter from a statement drafted by Periscope for release.
We do not know why the leadership at Quad took the position that we could not post the words Black Lives Matter. We heard that it was because Black Lives Matter is too closely associated with defunding the police, and that making that statement is derogatory to law enforcement officers. We disagree. We heard that it was because Quad is a publicly traded company, and that they cannot make political statements. We disagree and so do hundreds of other publicly traded companies.
Black Lives Matter is not a political statement — it is a fact. And to deny that basic fact, for any reason, is not just wrongheaded, it is morally reprehensible.
Yesterday, 13 of our staff walked off in protest to stand for what they believe in. Today, the rest of the agency is walking off in solidarity with them, as we no longer have confidence in our interim President’s ability to lead our agency and represent our values.
As an agency, we have prided ourselves on our fierce independence. Since our acquisition, we have lost that independence. Today, we are reclaiming it.
We will never again compromise our values as an agency to make our parent company feel comfortable. Their actions and inaction have had an irreversible impact on our colleagues of color and we regret that we did not take stronger action sooner to right this wrong.
On Monday, our new President Cari Bucci-Hulings will take on the unenviable position of leading an agency that is deeply wounded and mistrustful of the management decisions of our parent company. She has the full support of all Periscope employees including the 13 who walked off yesterday. We are hopeful that Monday will mark a new chapter for Periscope: one where we move past doing things people love and start doing better.
Black Lives Matter.