A Letter from our Director

Dear Friends,

What a time this has been. What a time. I find myself repeating that phrase often. On one end it is greeted with a breath of air that means, “Finally. Finally we are coming together to speak out against inequality and racial injustice.” However, it is followed by heartache to know that we are just beginning. It brings confusion as we watch folks struggle to grasp the importance of this work and witness them fight against it due to their own discomfort. It paints deep systemic race issues that if not addressed will only bring Band-Aid solutions, never getting to the root. Humility surfaces as we realize that this fight is not new for our Black community and we say the names of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others who have lost their lives to the hands of white, discriminative, racist power.

All of us at the YWRC say to our Black participants, friends, employees and community members, ‘we see you’. We acknowledge our responsibility to stand up for and with you. We know those of us that are white have a privileged voice that must be used. We will never tolerate racial injustice and commit to being an agency that stands in solidarity with our Black community.

We will put actions to words by addressing policies and procedures internally and externally to increase diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. We are committed to our responsibility to join our voices and advocacy in collaboration to implement change at the policy level for our city, state and country.

As we continue our dedication to the Black Lives Matter movement into Pride month, we join in solidarity to elevate Black LGBTQ+ voices. The Stonewall Riots in the 1960’s confronted police brutality and inequality, and inspired today’s Pride celebrations. Marsha P. Johnson, a Black transgender woman, and Sylvia Rivera, a Latina-American transgender woman, were key leaders and voices in this movement. They were on the front lines leading marches and advocacy for their community and creating safe spaces for transgender and homeless youth. We know LGBTQ+ communities in predominately white cities experience racism. This month will be crucial to bring these two voices together to honor Pride’s formative roots. We will use our voices and actions to demand social and economic justice as we elevate the voices of all POC LGBTQ+ individuals.

Multiple agencies and companies have been releasing their own statements for Black Lives Matter and I trust the work will continue well beyond this initial phase. I view each of those statements, and our own, as permission to hold each other accountable. We need to solidify that our words are not empty statements, but filled with action. We are thankful to join hands with so many in our community and know there are numerous roles to be filled: those supplying funds, providing front line advocacy, opening spaces for education, facilitating tenuous conversations and spearheading shifts in power. Find your role, find your space and keep showing up.

Imagine a world where we never stopped showing up – what a powerful, united voice that would be.