We are grateful there has been some measure of accountability for the murder of George Floyd, but we recognize we have a long way to go as a nation to ensure that Black men are treated with full humanity in the United States.
The way our systems marginalize and discriminate against Black people begins in their mothers’ womb. Studies have shown that Black boys as young as four years old are viewed by adults as "dangerous." Our society treats young Black boys like adults, ascribing malice and intent to normal childhood behaviors, and paving the way for the harsh discipline and violence they endure throughout their lives. Black boys are suspended, expelled, and otherwise disciplined in school at a disproportionate rate compared to their white peers. They are tracked into less rigorous courses during school that will make them less likely to attend college. Upon entering adulthood, having a name that "sounds Black" on a job application is a fast-track to the reject pile. Black men are more likely to be victims of violence, to be homeless, and to be pushed into a criminal justice system that rarely grants them justice.
Americans have decisively called for change. The highest turnout of voters in a generation, including significant numbers of new voters, have made their voices heard in all corners of our country. Young voters, Black voters – especially Black women, Latinx voters, voters spanning the diversity of the AAPI community, and voters from rural communities have spoken. A new electorate is emerging. Today we take a step closer to becoming the multiracial democracy that America aspires to be.
We extend our appreciation first and foremost to the millions of voters who made their voices heard. We are in awe of the tenacity on display to exercise the right to vote in a pandemic – and the professionalism of election officials, poll workers, and lawyers to ensure that all votes are counted. We celebrate that the democratic process worked. We must also do more to make voting easier for all Americans.
William H. Gates Sr. was a great man whose warmth and humanity could fill any room, whose generous spirit lifted others to be their best and whose kindness will be felt for generations.
We met Bill Sr. and his wife Mary early in our tenures at Microsoft, and in addition to becoming dear friends and neighbors, they instilled in us the imperative of giving back to community. For those of us who were lucky enough to work alongside Bill Sr., his presence was a daily inspiration and a bulwark against cynicism. He found joy in being in service to something bigger than himself, and at a time in his life when most people would have logged decades in retirement, his presence each day in the halls of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was a reminder to all of us that there is no greater calling in life than to serve others.
As we reflect on Blake Nordstrom’s incredible life, we can’t help but be filled with memories of his warm spirit, passion for community and unique ability to bring people together.
He modeled what it means to be an effective, inclusive business leader and a generous, engaged member of our community. Our families bonded over our shared desire to support the city and state we love. We were particularly passionate about ending homelessness in our region. With Blake’s death we lose a real champion and leader for that cause, but we can think of no better way to honor his life than by holding steadfast to that goal.
We will keep his memory close as we work toward the future he envisioned for his hometown. We send our deepest condolences to his wife Molly and all of his loved ones. May Blake rest in peace.