Over the past few weeks, we have mourned the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade — and the other known and unknown victims of racial terror and violence. These killings occurred against the backdrop of a global pandemic that disproportionately ravaged the Black community and surfaced entrenched racial inequities. In our anguish, we have taken to the streets in protest — in every state and around the globe — to demand the dismantling of systemic racism in society.
The effort to combat racial inequality will take continued work from all of us. Last week, Susan Wojcicki shared YouTube’s commitment to the Black community, and we will continue those efforts in the months and years ahead.
These are some ways that you can take action to end police violence against Black Americans and promote a more equitable world for all people:
Learn about policies and proposed changes like those available via The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights or Center for Policing Equity. Learn about the history and struggle for racial justice through resources like those available at the Equal Justice Initiative. Learn about actions you can take in your community now at Imagine Justice. For those who seek to be better allies, learn more about anti-racism using resources like those available at Racial Equity Tools.
Check out the YouTube Spotlight playlists for videos on these topics:
Check out these feature films and series that have been made available free to watch and rent on YouTube:
Use your platform to call out racial injustice, and share the message of equality to educate those around you. Maybe your platform is the dinner table, maybe it’s bedtime stories, maybe it’s your YouTube Channel. Use it!
Turn your voice into action with your vote.
— The YouTube Team
“We’ve allowed our most vulnerable children to be thrown away, to be traumatized and to be locked up in these jails and prisons, and we’ve got to change this narrative that some children aren’t children.” — Bryan Stevenson
As a human rights lawyer, I spent much of my time visiting girls behind bars. Many were arrested for child prostitution, even though they’d only lived 13 or 14 young years of life — not even close to the age of consent. They were not “child prostitutes,” but victims of child rape and trafficking. In prison, many of the girls were isolated for weeks, spending 23 hours a day in solitary confinement.
It was impossible for the struggles of these girls — and more broadly, the 48,000 U.S. children who are behind bars — to be witnessed. Their stories go unseen and unheard. So, to help these girls be more visible, I came to Google in 2015. And as Senior Counsel on Civil and Human Rights, I wanted to wield technology for the greater humanitarian good. YouTube and Google have always been a tool for people to change their own narratives.
YouTube and Google have also long supported efforts to improve our criminal justice system. Over the last four years, we’ve given over $ 30M in grants to criminal justice reform organizations, and partnered on projects like Love Letters, helping children send digital love letters to their incarcerated parents on Mother’s and Father’s Day. Through our philanthropy, and use of our platform, we’ve supported the work of those who are trying to do what’s right.
That work continues today, with the launch of a project that uses immersive storytelling tools to build empathy through proximity.
Today, YouTube and Google, in partnership with the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth (CFSY), are launching Project Witness — a campaign that allows us to learn from formerly incarcerated children using Virtual Reality.
It works like this: The VR film anchors the viewer in the experience of an incarcerated child. You’re able to see and hear the experience of being in solitary confinement from the viewpoint of a child in an adult prison. YouTube is a powerful platform for so much more than entertainment — from advocacy to education and awareness — that is open and accessible by everyone. VR is a unique format to pull the viewer into the story.
The film is available to everyone on YouTube, and can be watched on desktop or via a VR headset. We will also feature Project Witness at a number of YouTube Spaces and events throughout the year.
Project Witness is one part of YouTube’s ongoing criminal justice initiatives. On February 6, we released an episode of BookTube featuring Bryan Stevenson, based on his best-selling memoir “Just Mercy,” which is now also a feature film. And in the next few weeks we will release a documentary that explores the challenges of the cash bail system.
YouTube is a platform that seeks to give everyone a voice, and we’re proud to support the voices who are changing the way formerly incarcerated children are perceived. That’s why I came here, and I haven’t looked back ever since.
Malika Saada Saar, YouTube Social Impact
"Ideally we want the game to be in as many places as we can get it, but since we are a small developer and it's a complicated game, we can only do so much at once." That's The Witness developer Jonathan Blow describing to us his desire for the indie…
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