At Apple's WWDC, former AG Eric Holder urges developers to advance racial justice

Holder said developers can use their skills to help people find and share information amid Black Lives Matter protests.

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Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Abrar Al-Heeti
2 min read
Eric Holder

Former US Attorney General Eric Holder spoke about the fight for racial justice with Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, as part of this year's WWDC. 

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Former US Attorney General Eric Holder urged developers to use their skills to make it easier for people to find and share information on improving their societies amid Black Lives Matter protests and the fight for racial justice. Holder, who was the first African American US attorney general and served from 2009 to 2015, spoke to Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, Wednesday as part of the iPhone maker's virtual Worldwide Developers Conference. Jackson is also former administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

"If this community focuses on those issues, coupled with great companies like Apple, you all can have a really meaningful impact," Holder said. "We are at the beginning of something that I think ultimately is going to lead to some positive change."

The discussion comes following the killing of George Floyd last month in Minneapolis at the hands of police. Floyd's death, and the killing of many other Black Americans, has sparked protests across the US and around the world over racial injustice. Demonstrators have taken to the streets and to social media to voice their outrage at long-standing issues like police brutality and systemic racism and oppression.  

"Those people in the streets are going to force this nation into a very needed conversation," Holder said. "These are painful, awkward conversations, but they're necessary."

Earlier this month, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the company's $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. The effort is focused on issues including education, economic equality and criminal justice reform designed to "challenge the systemic barriers to opportunity and dignity that exist for communities of color, and particularly for the black community," according to Cook.

Holder said in order to improve the criminal justice system, we need to go beyond measures such as improving training and investigating police departments. We also need to deal with larger societal issues such as inequalities in education, employment and housing. 

"You can't divorce the criminal justice system from the society that it is a part of," he said. 

Black Lives Matter. Visit blacklivesmatter.carrd.co to learn how to donate, sign petitions and protest safely.

Watch this: Tim Cook opens WWDC, addresses racial inequality and coronavirus pandemic