Snap Inc. chief executive Evan Spiegel called for the establishment of a non-partisan Commission on Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations and new income tax structures as part of a larger plan to make America more equitable for black citizens.
“We should establish a diverse, non-partisan Commission on Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations,” Spiegel wrote in an internal memo to employees Monday. “We must begin a process to ensure that America’s black community is heard throughout the country, investigate the criminal justice system for bias and prejudice, strengthen the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, and take action on recommendations for reconciliation and reparations made by the Commission.”
Spiegel added in his letter that the country must rethink its tax system, which he said is fundamentally flawed. “I believe that one reason entrepreneurship in America has declined so substantially since the 1980s is the lack of a sufficient societal safety net,” Spiegel wrote. “Entrepreneurship depends on people being able to take risks to start a business, which is nearly impossible to do without some sort of safety net like the one I had,” Spiegel added, referring to starting Snap in 2011 with co-founder Bobby Murphy after graduating college.
In a statement provided to TheWrap, Snap said, “to confront the long legacy of violence and injustice in America – of which George (Floyd), Ahmaud (Arbery), and Breonna (Taylor) are the latest victims, with so many more unnamed – we must embrace profound change. Not merely a change in our country, but a change in our hearts.”
In order to invest in non-white and underprivileged entrepreneurs who have historically been unsupported when starting businesses, Spiegel said the nation’s tax system must be reshaped.
“Investing in the future of our country to benefit our children’s children will be expensive. We will need to institute a more progressive income tax system and a substantially higher estate tax, and we will need corporations to pay a higher tax rate,” Spiegel said. “While we are investing in the future, we will also have to reduce the federal deficit so that we are better prepared to meet any external shocks that may come in the future in our rapidly changing world. In short, people like me will pay a lot more in taxes – and I believe it will be worth it to create a society that benefits all of us.”
Spiegel said in his letter his thoughts on civil justice began to form at a young age when his father served as general counsel to the Christopher Commission, a group created to investigate police violence and racism following the 1991 Rodney King Riots in Los Angeles. During his college years, Spiegel said he worked and studied in South Africa, where he “witnessed the devastation of Apartheid and the legacy of racism” and met Bishop Desmond Tutu. Spiegel also said that during his undergraduate years at Stanford University, he lived in a dorm dedicated to the black community.
Quoting a CNN study on the ethnic diversity of several generations, Spiegel noted that “some research has shown that when an older generation does not see themselves reflected in the younger generation, they are less willing to invest in their future. In America, the Boomer generation is about 70% white, and Gen Z is about 50% white. America’s demographic change is inevitable.”
“Some of you have asked about whether Snap will contribute to organizations that support equality and justice. The answer is yes. But in my experience, philanthropy is simply unable to make more than a dent in the grave injustices we face,” Spiegel said.
Read Spiegel’s full remarks to Snap here.