Amidst these dark times, the outpouring of support and solidarity for justice, Black lives, and oppressed and marginalized communities provides a spark of hope. Defy Ventures unequivocally stands with these organizations, individuals, activists, and communities who are demanding and fighting for justice. The recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade—and many others whose names have not made national news—are a devastating continuation of a long legacy of this country’s institutional racism, upon which the criminal justice system was built.
The time to end this legacy has always been now. While activists and communities have worked for decades and longer to bring about this change, we hope that the current time will bring in a wider community to join the movement and help contribute the time, energy, and resources to sustain the work that needs to happen.
For Defy, this means recognizing our own privilege while also fulfilling our mission of shifting mindsets to give people with criminal histories their best shot at a second chance. This not only means providing resources and training to people with criminal histories but also changing the hearts and minds of society about a system that, by design, increases the odds of incarceration and the time imprisoned for people of color. If we don’t confront racism, stigma, and the systemic odds stacked against people of color and with criminal histories, we will not have a society that gives fair chances for all. Instead, we will broaden the divides that already exist.
For those of you who are making commitments to do more toward this end, there are many ways you can take action to bring about positive change. There are many voices worth listening to out there—do your research, listen, and take action. Use whatever privilege and power you may have to keep these issues at the forefront and advocate for change. Examine your hiring policies to ensure a fair chance is being given to all applicants.
For those who choose to take action with us, join us at our post-release events (you can sign up here). When we can bring volunteers to prison again, join us and bring your friends. Support businesses owned by Defy graduates. Educate yourself about the criminal justice system and its systemic inequities. For a non-exhaustive list of Defy graduate businesses organized by region, as well as resources about the criminal justice system, see our links below.
Finally, don’t give up on our democracy. Vote for people who will move the work forward.
Let’s get to work.
The Defy team