Dear JVC Northwest Community,
Our hearts are heavy as we process the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police, and the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by his fellow citizens. Their deaths are set against the backdrop of black people being infected with and dying of COVID-19 at much higher rates than white people (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Journal of the American College of Cardiology), dying at the hands of police at more than 2.5 times the rate of white people, and other statistics highlighting the glaring racism so ingrained into the laws and systems of the U.S. and into those of us who were socialized within this system. After a hard week and weekend for our country, we want to acknowledge the pervasive racism in our midst. JVC Northwest Staff have had the chance to connect with each other and with our volunteers in recent days and we will continue to do so.
What do we do in the face of the systemic racism and white supremacy we see through these events? First and foremost, to the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in our current and former cohorts of JVs and JVEs, in the communities we serve, and on our staff: we recognize your pain and your fatigue for the daily injustices you face, which are exacerbated by these recent murders. As an organization, we are compelled to continue the work we know to be ours. Now and always is the time to center the voices of those most impacted by injustice, and we feel called to focus on the deliberate and intentional steps of our journey toward diversity, equity, and inclusion as a community and in supporting our volunteers as they process, mourn, learn, and unlearn.
No official statement or social media post will be enough. No prior work is enough. Our current work is not enough. This past week, we have been called to listen, to learn, and engage in action to find what our next steps must be. We remain steadfastly committed to recognizing and dismantling the pervasive racism all around us and in us, and the racism we have unintentionally perpetuated at times. We call on you to continue your reflections, to listen to the voices of those most impacted by these oppressive systems without asking more of them, and to determine your next steps too, wherever you are, and whatever your context may be. We have found this piece by Deepa Iyer to be helpful in times like these, as it guides reflection on our individual and organizational roles in social-change ecosystems.
We welcome dialogue about your perspective and experience, your ideas and your pain, your work and ours. If you are interested in reaching out or want to hear more about work we are doing, I am available at firstname.lastname@example.org.