Apple CEO Tim Cook has penned an Op-Ed for The Wall Street Journal, “Tim Cook on the Pandemic Year: The Urgency of Racial Justice,” in which he laments “systemic injustice.”
This year has forced each of us to re-examine and to change how we live, work and relate to one another. And for that reason I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the year of COVID-19 was also the year where critical conversations about equity and systemic injustice attained both new urgency and a well-deserved central role in our national conversation.
In simple theory, a disease should affect all of us equally. But in plain fact, the opposite is true. We have all seen, in real time, how structural discrimination and obstacles to opportunity do their work in a crisis. In our communities, every burden—from rates of infection and care outcomes, to economic adversity, to the challenges of virtual learning when schools are closed—falls heaviest on those for whom true equity has always been farthest from reach. As someone who grew up during the civil-rights movement, it has been frustrating to see how much work is still to be done but heartening to see the degree to which people of good will have set aside comfort with the status quo to march and to demand something better.
Cook then explains the importance of education and explains what Apple is doing.
An essential place to focus this work is on education, in all its forms. Education is a great equalizer, but it cannot do its work without tools and without a home. Our approach at Apple has been to ask, “How can we help?” That question has led us to build powerful learning tools and share them freely with tens of thousands of teachers, educators and parents.
And it’s led us to undertake major new investments through our Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. These projects include the Propel Center in Atlanta, which we’re helping to build in partnership with the country’s historically black colleges and universities, to support the next generation of leaders of color in fields ranging from machine learning to app development, entrepreneurship to design; and our first Apple Developer Academy in the U.S., in downtown Detroit, home to more than 50,000 black-owned businesses and no shortage of great ideas for the app economy.
MacDailyNews Take: Some may argue that Cook tends toward the mawkish (and, indeed, the WSJ comment section below Cook’s Op-Ed shows that plenty are in that camp). You know, in a nutshell: “With Tim Cook in charge, Apple would be worth $10 trillion already if only they could sell sanctimonious claptrap,” but, when done well, corporate philanthropy can be a competitive advantage, used to promote a company’s image (as in the second half of Cook’s Op-Ed, which is basically free advertising), insulate a company from criticism or government regulation, boost employee morale in addition to trying to create social impact.
By training people, regardless of their skin color or gender, in the fields of machine learning and app development, Apple creates more potential future employees. By boosting social and economic conditions, companies can create new customers and expand markets for its products.