Bezos calls out ‘sickening’ response to Black Lives Matter post

Matt Day
Bloomberg

Jeff Bezos said he received “a number of sickening but not surprising” responses after publicly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Amazon.com Inc. chief executive officer on Sunday posted to Instagram a screenshot of a profane, racist email he said he received from someone threatening to stop shopping with the retailer because of Bezos’s support for Black Lives Matter.

“This sort of hate shouldn’t be allowed to hide in the shadows,” the world’s richest person wrote. “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 on Friday posted on Instagram an email exchange with a different customer in which he defended a decision to place a Black Lives Matter banner on Amazon.com touting a $10 million donation Amazon made to a group of racial and social justice organizations.

The recipient of those gifts, which include Black Lives Matter, the Brennan Center for Justice and the NAACP, were selected by Amazon’s leadership and the company’s Black Employees Network, Amazon said. A blog post announcing the donations has gone up on bulletin boards in some Amazon warehouses, employees say.

Much of Amazon’s racial diversity is found among frontline workers in its warehouses and other logistics depots, rather than the white-collar software developers and product managers in the company’s office buildings. Among workers classified as laborers or helpers in detailed workforce data Amazon last disclosed for 2016, 58% of employees identified as a race other than white. That percentage fell to 42% when looking at all other workers, a group primarily composed of professionals and managers.

Amazon, like many technology companies, has been criticized in recent years for a lack of people of color in its predominantly white, male leadership ranks. Amazon said 26.5% of its U.S. workforce at the end of 2019 identified as black or African American, a figure that falls to 8.3% when looking at management alone.

Bezos, a latecomer to social media and a relatively infrequent user by the standard of technology executives, has more than 2 million followers on Instagram.