SAN FRANCISCO - A tech executive who founded a well-known company in the Bay Area resigned from his corporate board position Friday in an effort to combat racial inequality.
15 years ago, Alexis Ohanian co-founded the social media news site Reddit.com.
In 2017 he married well-known African-American tennis star Serena Williams, and the two had a child.
Today, as Ohanian resigned from his position from the board of directors, he said he was doing it partly for his daughter.
“I'm doing this for me, for my family, and for my country. I'm saying this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks what did you do?,” said Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit.
“I think it’s a gigantic move,” said George Holland, President of the Oakland chapter of the NAACP, who applauded the gesture.
Ohanian says he resigned to make room for someone else, and wants to be replaced by an African-American.
“I have urged them to fill my seat with a black candidate.”
“Yes, that’s a very positive step. More people of his same stature should do the same thing,” said Holland.
Ohanian also vowed to use future gains from his Reddit stock to serve the black community.
“Chiefly to curb racial hate. I’m starting with a pledge of $1,000,000 to Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp.
Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was ostracized by the NFL after repeatedly taking a knee during the national anthem in protest of police violence.
His cause has taken on new energy following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
When demonstrations eventually end, problems of systemic inequalities will still exist.
Holland says corporate America will have a role to play in influencing change, but cautions bringing blacks into the corporate c-suite as window dressing won’t help.
“We don’t want someone who is not one of us. Don’t give me somebody black just because he’s black. That’s not enough. That’s not enough. You have to have felt the pain that I’ve felt. If you’ve seen what I’ve seen. If you haven’t experienced what I’ve experienced, then I have a real problem with that.”
As people rise up against police violence, Reddit’s co-founder is the first well-known executive to take dramatic personal action, saying he believes stepping down is one way people like him can help lift up others.
“I believe resignation can actually be an active leadership for people in power right now, and to everyone fighting to fix our broken nation do not stop.”
Reddit’s CEO says the company is making changes to it’s content policy to specifically address hate, and added that the company plans to honor Ohanian’s request to fill his vacant board seat with someone black.