As many across the world showed their solidarity for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement on Tuesday by posting black images on social media, the cryptocurrency industry was eerily quiet.
Since May 25th, the news has been dominated with BLM protests after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis was caught on camera and shared widely. As a result of the horrifying images, there has been a global outcry from many prominent figures, actors and celebrities. One way of voicing their support has been by posting a black image on their social media, under the hashtag:#BlackoutTuesday. Instagram saw over 27 million posts of the black square in solidarity.
Big tech/internet companies also showed their support. TikTok turned off its playlist temporarily to be seen as “standing in solidarity with the Black community and the music industry”. Others like MTV and fashion company L’Oréal Paris also joined in the championing of the movement.
However, many major exchanges and influencers in the cryptocurrency industry were not in the mood to voice their backing. The official accounts of Coinbase, OkEx, Ethereum and other major exchanges were silent. Tron’s Justin Sun, someone who has spent lots of time in America, was unmoved.
Even major media outlets, like CoinTelegraph and CoinDesk, who regularly pen articles on a range of political topics, had little to say on social media and have reported sparsely on the movement and protests.
More surprising non-participants (at least on twitter), included US citizen and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong. It is not out of character for Armstrong to post political content on Twitter as he recently shared an article on China’s national security law with regards to Hong Kong. Yet, he was silent on his Twitter account on any Floyd or BLM related posts.
Others took a slightly different approach like Binance, who had their charity arm post a black image in solidarity but nothing came from the official account.
Their founder, Changpeng Zhao was fairly quiet on the issue. Instead, he claimed Bitcoin was the “saviour” in one tweet and mulled the effectiveness of guns as a protector of liberty in another seen below. Later on, he did share an article linked to the protests and George Floyd killings, with a quote from it attached which read: “The world will be a much better place if the rest of us started listening.”
Some speak out in support of BLM
However, it has not been a complete back turn from the industry. Ripple and its founder Brad Garlinghouse went against the grain posting a long message of support on their official account. Garlinghouse also penned a number of tweets in support of the black struggle, saying, “I stand in solidarity with all who are fighting to save Black lives.”
Garlinghouse, who was born in the UK also quoted the late Desmund Tutu, the South African Reverend and freedom fighter who said: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Perhaps a nod to his fellow industry peers who have so far said little.
Although there were no official statements from the company, Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson, went on an interesting monologue on his Youtube channel calling for a change in the political system. He cited the unfair treatment of protestors and the lack of popular representation in politics under the current voting system as issues.
Roger Ver, CEO of Bitcoin.com looked to illustrate the crazed laws that see many people killed for minimal violations like in the case of Eric Garner whose crime was selling loose cigarettes, something he paid for with his life after being detained by police.
Others wanted to help the movement directly. Nigerian artist Osinachi sold his Floyd referenced piece, “I Can’t Breathe” on May 31 for 7 Etherum (ETH), about $1,703 on the blockchain art site, SperRare.“Part of the proceeds from this NFT will go to the Black Lives Matter movement,” the artist said in a statement after the sale which lasted only six hours.
Alongside Ripple in their proud support of the movement stood cryptocurrency website and tech company, Hackernoon who emblazoned their website banner with the BLM logo. The website put out a long editorial on why they went about the action citing that they did it to be on the right side of history and spread awareness to their readership.
Yet, why the silence from the majority of the industry? Some may cry that politics is separate from the industry but only a naive person would opine that. The cryptocurrency and its industry are an integral part of future society’s economics and are, therefore, a part of the political domain. Just look at the large number of institutions and governments which have announced digital currency-related plans.
In fact, the industry should be the biggest advocates against police brutality and a violent state. The ideological basis for the creation of cryptocurrencies was that it is an alternative system free from state control. The death of George Floyd is an example of the state apparatus, the Police force, taking his life and freedom. That surely flies in the face of any true crypto advocate, especially those who believe in decentralization and the economic “freedom” crypto provides.
If anything, this industry should be the ones shouting the loudest telling people: “Look! This is why these institutions snd governments can’t be trusted, we need a system built away from them!”
At best their silence is a missed opportunity, at worst it is, like Tutu conveyed, a veiled sign of support for the oppressors.