Anger, sadness, grief, shock, disgust, disbelief – it is hard to describe the emotions that have been building up within us over these recent months. The tragic loss of lives to COVID, the job losses of our friends and neighbors – and then, to see the horrifying violence and injustice that communities of color have been living with played out live, over and over and over, is a compelling reason for us to stand up and do more.
Our nation is very sick. We are living through a pandemic, which is the easiest of the illnesses. We are also living with a cancer called racism and we suffer from massive crippling of income inequality. The first one can be cured with a vaccine, however the second two are much more structural and systemic.
The worst part about this is that while this reality damages everyone, communities of color carry the largest burden, by a lot. They are right in the middle of all of the worst parts of this – from the impact of the pandemic, to the losses of lives and freedoms as a result of racism, to the sub-standard education and access to healthcare as a result of income inequality.
In the past weeks, all of these things have been painting an ugly picture that should make all of us take a giant step back and acknowledge that this is unacceptable. Quite frankly, it has always been unacceptable! But for reasons I cannot fathom, we have allowed it to continue for far too long. It shouldn’t have taken such incredible tragedy and loss for us to decide that it was enough. But here we are, and, it is indeed enough.
It is time to step forward and root out the cancer that is killing our country and burdening our communities of color unfairly. It is time that we all, individually, organizationally and as a part of our communities – look hard in the mirror to figure out what we are going to do about it.
While writing letters and statements is a first step, words are easy. Action is hard. Sustained action that creates difficult change is even harder. But that is what must happen. That is what will happen at Ascentria, where we are called to strengthen communities by empowering people to respond to life’s challenges. Therefore, we are committed to understanding our part in this equation and working harder to come together to create substantive and systemic change.
It IS possible to create a world that is just and equitable. Every person has something valuable to add and, true to Ascentria’s values and mission, our job is to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Either we all thrive or none of us does. This should be the lesson and the silver lining from COVID – the reminder or realization that we are all interconnected. None of us can do this alone. We need each other more than ever now and we need to look for where we have common ground so we can work together to make our communities better for everyone.
Today, we mourn the tragic loss of lives, security, safety and health.
Today, we decide that it is enough.
Today, we decide to engage in finding solutions.
Today, we make our positions clear, our voices heard – we register to vote and we make sure that we are counted in the census.
Today we open our hearts and minds to learn, to listen and to become better.
Today, we know that all things are possible when we come together and put Ascentria’s values of courage, compassion and integrity into action.
Blessings and hope to you all
Angela, Ascentria President and CEO