Tim Cook says COVID has highlighted 'systemic injustice'

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Apple CEO Tim Cook wants our new "national conversation" about equality to build as the coronavirus pandemic recedes.

As Apple Stores begin to return to how they were before the coronavirus, Tim Cook has written an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal calling for us all to act on what we've learned in the last year. He says the pandemic highlighted longstanding injustices and celebrates that we are now talking about this.

"In simple theory, a disease should affect all of us equally," Cook writes. "But in plain fact, the opposite is true. We have all seen, in real time, how structural discrimination and obstacles to opportunity do their work in a crisis."

"In our communities, every burden— from rates of infection and care outcomes, to economic adversity, to the challenges of virtual learning when schools are closed— falls heaviest on those for whom true equity has always been farthest from reach," he continues.

"As someone who grew up during the civil-rights movement," writes Cook, "it has been frustrating to see how much work is still to be done but heartening to see the degree to which people of good will have set aside comfort with the status quo to march and to demand something better."

Cook proposes that education is the answer — but not by itself. "Education is a great equalizer, but it cannot do its work without tools and without a home," he says.

"Our approach at Apple has been to ask, 'How can we help?'" he continues. "That question has led us to build powerful learning tools and share them freely with tens of thousands of teachers, educators and parents."

Cook gives as an example, some of the ventures in Apple's Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, and suggests that this kind of effort is "essential." He says it "falls on all of us — individuals and communities, companies and governments" to work for a "durable and hopeful future.

"If this pandemic has taught us anything," he writes, "I hope it's that none of us can use injustice's long history as an excuse not to act."

"Our lives on this planet are precious and fleeting, and fate has a way of reminding us that society is only as strong as those who, for too long, have gone overlooked and undervalued," concludes Cook.

Cook's article in the Wall Street Journal follows his recently telling shareholders that he is "greatly optimistic" about Apple's future, post-pandemic.