Dear YMCA family,
At times like these words seem inadequate to express the sorrow, grief, and anger we are all feeling regarding the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor and the ongoing violence toward black individuals and communities across our country. On behalf of the entire YMCA, our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Floyd’s family, friends, co-workers, and community, and with the families and communities of Mr. Arbery and Ms. Taylor as well. More importantly, our actions of solidarity and anti-racism are with them. Our Y team’s hearts are broken and our sadness is deep as we stand with all in our community who are devastated, disappointed, disgusted, and distressed by tragedies that were avoidable. Our team is also dedicated to doing work, each and every day, that contributes to the creation of a just and equitable world for all. This is evident in big ways and in small ones—in the books and toys in our after-school programs that represent all people and all families and in the ways in which we show up as active allies to communities of color in our community. Every day we work together to strengthen our community so all can thrive. Tragedies like these can make us feel helpless and hopeless. Let’s not be either. Let’s be sad and angry, but only in ways which encourage us to rededicate ourselves to the work at hand. As Angela Davis said, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” I challenge each of us to think of the things that we can do, individually and collectively, big and small, to change the world for the better and to continue fighting to change the things we cannot accept.
At our YMCA, diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the center of all that we do, and we are committed to being active allies and partners to communities of color, not only now, but each day all year long. We have a deep and intentional work ethic of creating policies and relationships that reflect the Y’s dedication to anti-racist work is not something new for our YMCA. We are at work on this all the time, and will continue to center this work in the days, months, and years to come.
Here are some of the ways the YMCA is increasing its efforts to serve our community:
1. Working closely with the YMCA’s Equity Innovation Center to develop additional training for local YMCA staff on undoing systemic racism and acting as allies to communities of color
2. Collaborating even more with our local and national community partners to combat inequities locally, nationally, and globally and to be part of the supportive network of YMCA's across the country.
This is a dark time, but we can all be lights in the dark. Martin Luther King Jr. famously wrote that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that the Y’s values of caring, honesty, responsibility, and respect will continue to guide us as we navigate challenges that our community and our country face. As always, the Y is proud to stand and support the community, even in the most difficult times. The Y is here to support you. I hope that you will not hesitate to reach out and support one another. A YMCA colleague of mine has a sign in her office that reminds us that our heart is the size of our fist and that we should keep loving and keep fighting. That feels as true and needed as anything. We have work to do. Let’s keep doing it.