Support Kimberly Bryant, CEO & Founder of Black Girls Code

Support Kimberly Bryant, CEO & Founder of Black Girls Code

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Petition to
Black Girls Code Board of Directors

Why this petition matters

To the Black Girls CODE board of directors,

Many of us have been at a loss to figure out how to support both Kimberly Bryant and Black Girls CODE after the startling news from December 21st. It is unconscionable to us that a decade after successfully establishing an iconic institution, a giant among us like Kimberly Bryant could be suspended from the organization she built, much less that it could happen with so much chaos and so little dignity. To subject a leader who dedicated her life and the resources of her community to Black Girls CODE to waking up one day and learning of her suspension when she could not access her various work accounts is beneath any organization. It is a total lack of basic professionalism and competence that begs the question, what are the qualifications of the board and what kind of governance is it enacting? 

We are a movement of people deeply committed to the humanity and dignity of Black women. That commitment applies to all people in this movement, and the actions of the Black Girls CODE board fail to reflect that. Nor do they reflect or respect the immeasurable amount of work that it has taken to elevate Black Girls CODE to its position in our industry today. They especially do not reflect healthy governance. 

We know enough about nonprofit governance and basic organizational management to see that if a board does not demonstrate the skills required to professionally handle the important relationship with its founder, we as a community are concerned about what else is being mishandled in the treatment of one of the most accomplished leaders of our generation, and a founding mother of our movement.

Importantly, we want to be clear that support of due process with one leader is not meant to suppress the voices of potentially harmed employees or quell potentially appropriate corrective action. We expect for this to be afforded the intentionality that Kimberly, Black Girls CODE and the thousands of girls they've supported deserve. We know firsthand that no one leader is perfect and immune from criticism but we write and request corrective action and accountability because we believe deeply that respecting our young people starts with respecting the leaders who have prioritized them. 

The movement to build a diverse digital revolution has been an uphill climb for the last decade. When that fight started there was little to no funding for this work. Kimberly Bryant helped co-create a space with a few other leaders that did not exist before her. As many of us have experienced, the gap between the impact of our brands and our meager budgets has been vast. White leaders doing comparable work were on the receiving end of millions of dollars while organizations like Black Girls CODE did pathbreaking, system-changing work with a fraction of that money. 

Only 4% of all charitable giving in the United States goes to Black- and Latinx-led organizations; of that 4%, only .6% of all charitable funding goes to Black and Latinx women. That is the pressure cooker in which Kimberly has run this organization. That she still managed to make Black Girls CODE internationally recognized and deliver life-changing results for thousands of Black girls who have benefitted from their work is nothing short of historic. 

What this level of achievement with so little support has often meant for many of us is that investments in healthy operations and internal systems were difficult to make. Founders like Kimberly have been pushed by donors and investors to prioritize projects and scale quickly. Founders like Kimberly have not been afforded the resources, time, or space to make those investments in our institutions. We highlight this because while we believe in organizations with healthy checks and balances, and we believe all leaders should be held to standards of quality, we also believe in equity and respect. Anyone charged with supporting the leaders who face these uphill battles must avoid the trap of power dynamics that run blind to these realities.

We ask for Kimberly Bryant to be given immediate, fair, equitable and swift due process so the work of Black Girls CODE will continue without distraction. 

604 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!