“If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals.”— Barack Obama
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
Racism in America is systemic. Its manifestations are appallingly evident in the horrific killing of George Floyd and many unarmed Black people (this is according to the National Association of Black Journalists) before him. It also exists in countless less explicit and yet structurally pervasive ways that perpetuate racial inequities and contradict our most sacred values.Sadly, the destruction and death that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic is another example of systemic racism: the structural biases and inequities built into our systems have meant that people of color and people in low-income communities have disproportionately and unjustly experienced negative outcomes.
One critical step in addressing systemic racism is to mobilize a national majority to become aware of its pervasiveness and to take action. SIE is in full support of the protests across the country that we hope will be an inflection point leading to broader mobilization and action. Such actions must occur at the individual, organizational, community and political/legislative levels. Most of all, they need to be systemic and transformational. Without true systemic change, the awful, immoral legacy of racism will continue to oppress people of color and over time destroy the very foundation of our country.
We have long believed that it is our sector’s imperative to change the underlying systems that foster racial and economic inequities. In our recent letter to the field, we emphasized the need to address inequitable systems that keep low income populations, particularly those of color, from having anywhere near equal opportunity to succeed and thrive. In the letter, we noted several actions SIE would take to help equitably transform systems in the US, including a systems fund, programming at our national conference and other field building and learning efforts. Please be on the look-out for an announcement about these initiatives in the next couple of weeks.
Systems are not unchangeable. They are made up of people. People formed them through their decisions. People can change them through new decisions. Some will resist the change, and that is why we must stand together and continue to gain allies in the long-term effort for equity, justice and equal opportunity in America.
Yours in solidarity,
Social Impact Exchange