Black Lives Matter
I want to acknowledge the pain and fear that the black members of our community are feeling. The murder of George Floyd has received media attention, but it is important to recognize that his name is one among many thousands of lynchings that have happened in this country.
To quote Uniqua Adams, a City Year Milwaukee alumna and staff member:
“The pain and fear comes from years of oppression, erasure and disregard white people have for a race that simply did not ask to be here but in 1619 were brought here on the very first slave ship. It’s from government documents that state ‘All men are created equal’ but laws don’t reflect that. The outrage stems from being black and it being a problem everywhere. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many more are the examples of a society that chooses to exploit, destroy & murder us without any action being taken but bringing the national guard in to brutalize us on the streets while all we ask is to be seen. To matter.”
To members of our community who are personally impacted by this continued violence, we stand with you and are here to support you. We cannot operate as business as usual right now. We must demand action. Black lives matter.
We are making a commitment – City Year aspires to be an anti-racist organization. As systemic racism is an engine of inequity, opposing it is essential and central to our mission to create educational equity and to prepare the next generation of civically engaged leaders. We recognize that this work is ongoing. To start, City Year has provided staff with four additional paid days off in the month of June to allow members of our community to take time for healing and self-care and to be used to engage as citizens in solidarity. Locally, we are continuing to engage our board members in the work of self-reflection and action toward dismantling white supremacy. I am encouraging my managers to continue to check on the well-being of our teams. Additionally, on Monday City Year Milwaukee staff joined other local community groups in a cleanup on MLK Drive. Our staff care deeply about this issue. On their own time, many staff are choosing to engage in peaceful protests, support Black owned businesses, spend time to reflect and to read books about anti-racism and white fragility.
Aspiring to be an anti-racist organization will be a learning journey for all of us and it will be ongoing. I want to acknowledge that we are not close to where we need to be. There is so much work that needs to be done and we are willing to do it. With that, I encourage you to provide feedback. I am available to virtually meet; simply respond to this email to schedule. We hope we can find strength in this community and the work we are doing to advance educational equity and to develop and support leaders who will create a more just and equitable future for all of us, our AmeriCorps members and our students.
Meralis T. Hood
City Year Milwaukee