Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos responded to a customer’s racist soliloquy on Instagram Monday saying he’s “happy to lose” customers over his support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to Hypebeast, the customer said in the email he was withdrawing an order after hearing that Bezos supported the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I was placing an order with your company when I discovered your statement in support of Black Lives Matter,” the customer wrote. “Maintain your stance and we will watch your profits decline and laugh about it. My business relationship with you is over.”
Bezos responded, “this sort of hate shouldn’t be allowed to hide in the shadows. It’s important to make it visible. This is just one example of the problem. And, Dave, you’re the kind of customer I’m happy to lose.”
Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, pledged to donate $10 million to social justice organizations.
Another Instagram post showed an email from a woman who felt that the site having “black lives matter” on it was “offensive.” Bezos responded to that as well saying “I support this movement we see happening all around us, and my stance won’t change.”
Amazon’s Support of Police
Although Bezos says he supports the Black Lives Matters movement, The Guardian reported that Amazon has deep ties to policing.
“It is opportunistic of Amazon to use this moment to make empty and hypocritical statements when it is simultaneously building the backbone for many police departments across the country,” Jacinta Gonzalez of Mijente, a grassroots organizing group told The Guardian. “The company perpetuates policies and technologies that are clearly targeting and harming black and brown communities.”
According to The Guardian, the tech giant has sold its facial recognition software to police departments across the country. Additionally, the American Civil Liberties Union ran a test on the software and found it incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress to photos of people arrested for a crime. It also disproportionately misidentified Congress members who are not white.
Activists have also called on local officials and lawmakers to prevent Amazon from partnering with law enforcement agencies. Amazon subsidiary Ring, which makes doorbell cameras, has partnered with 1,300 police departments across the country to use its footage to improve surveillance.
Amazon also sells web hosting services to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A group of employees known as We Won’t Build It has called on the company to discontinue those sales and stop selling facial recognition software to law enforcement.
Additionally, Amazon’s relationship with non-white employees is not positive. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group of employee activists at the company, noted Chris Smalls was fired for organizing a protest against unsafe conditions during the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
“Actions speak louder than words,” the group said. “Amazon’s words mean nothing when they are firing black employees organizing for better working conditions, when leadership planned racist smears against Chris Smalls, calling him ‘not smart or articulate’, when they deny our call for racial equity assessments in their business decisions and eliminating the environmental racism of its pollution, when they supply facial recognition software and Ring surveillance video access to police departments that are killing black people with impunity.”