by Elise Cutini, CEO, and Rick Williams, Board President
Last week, we watched in horror, the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, which was just the latest in a string of deaths that included the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. As our outrage over these events continues and we sit with heavy hearts, we are taking a moment to speak out because silence is no longer an option. For too long, silence and indifference by too many have allowed systemic racism, violence, and unequal justices to continue unchecked.
It has been almost thirty years since the brutal beating of Rodney King, and now this country is faced again with the consequences of our lack of progress in breaking down the pillars of systemic racism that vest such a heavy burden on our black and brown neighbors.
As millions of people have taken to the streets to voice their frustration with the killing of George Floyd and the ongoing problems of systemic racism, where do we find hope? Some hope is seen in the gestures of unity and love displayed between people of all races as well as between police officers and protesters. But hope is not enough, hope must be followed by persistent action that starts with the acknowledgment of racism and violence that exist in our country. Change has begun with the protests, but it cannot end there. We must continue to encourage conversation, increase awareness, support dialogue, and act in any and every way possible. We must continue to reflect our own contribution or lack of contribution to changing institutional racism over the last thirty years. What must we do now? We need to educate ourselves, donate to organizations in this community that work for diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism, and vote for people who not only support dismantling institutional racism but who make it a priority.
In that regard, we are making a commitment to the young adults we serve, to our staff, and to our community, that Pivotal will use this period for self-reflection, action, and renewal. While we continue to support the education and employment of foster youth in our communities, we must listen to our young people from foster care to better understand their fears and pain. We must not be silent, we must not pretend that we know what this is like, we must provide our black and brown youth and employees space and time for healing, we must not rely on black and brown leaders, employees or young people to educate us in order to justify their hurt. We must create space for dialogue and awareness, and we must not allow these conversations to stop after the protests stop. We must look at all the systems that touch the lives of our youth and work to remove systemic racisms and barriers that make it hard for our young people to achieve their dreams.
This is a journey and we do not have all the answers, but we pledge to remain vigilant and persist to help America live up to its creed as a place of opportunity for all.
How do we find hope? We find hope when those that are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.
Holding each of you in peaceful thoughts.