“I’m writing to you today with a range of emotions. I’m saddened by the inexplicable loss of yet another human life. I’m confused as to how after taking so many steps forward during my lifetime, we as a country seemingly always find a way to take steps back. I’m angered by a system that vilifies people because of how they look or where they’re from.
What happened to George Floyd on May 25 th and Breonna Taylor on March 13 th and Ahmaud Arbery on February 23 rd is far too familiar to us all – especially to the Black community. These murders and others like them will leave an unrelenting, everlasting stain on our country. To those of you experiencing pain, frustration, and exhaustion from this never-ending fight…we hear you, we’re with you, and we support you.
Protests and rallies in major cities across America and the world, including one I attended this week in the City of Brockton, continue to communicate simple and powerful messages to which we should all be listening:
Black Lives Matter. We Want Justice. I Can’t Breathe.
It’s hard to know where to start to properly address such a boundless issue. It will take empathy in every sense of the word to foster the true collaboration we need in communities across America. I’m reminded of what Kevin Washington, President and CEO of YMCA of the USA, said just a couple years ago:
“Young people can accomplish anything.”
At the Y, this has always been our focus, and this is where we’ll start. Young people have always driven change in our community, and today is no different. We are committed to acknowledging, understanding, and breaking down the inequities that exist in our organization and our society – and we’ll do this by following the lead of our young people.
We will find new ways to both amplify youth voice and mobilize for change.
We will reinforce our commitment to diversity and inclusion at every level of our Y.
We will work with public officials, community leaders, partner organizations, and people with lived experience to create positive change.
We will advocate for social justice at the federal, state, and local level.
For decades, Old Colony Y has addressed the challenges faced by our community by developing innovative programs in the areas of juvenile justice, mental health, violence prevention, homelessness, and so much more. At the core of that work are thousands individual relationships with the people we serve every day. As we face a new challenge today, we will look to this history for guidance, and then pivot to look forward with hope and aspiration.
While I will never be able to see the world through the eyes of a person of color or understand the pain of someone who is persecuted for simply being something other than white, I will do everything I can to fight for change. Our Y must be a leader in the way we treat people, the way we serve the community, and the way we drive progress.
I consider myself lucky to be a part of a mission-driven organization along with colleagues from all backgrounds and experiences. I wonder at times like these how those colleagues are feeling about the culture of our Y and the state of their community – because before we can look to the future, we must confront the emotions of the present.
With that in mind, we will develop an anonymous feedback loop to fight inequity both internally and externally. I want to hear directly from you, because we can’t do it without you – our staff, members, participants, and community. Click here to share your questions, ideas, and concerns surrounding racial equity so we can begin to develop solutions together. I hope to share some of that feedback with you soon.
Seeing these events unfold, together with the existing stress of the pandemic, must feel like an unbearable weight at times. If you’re in need of any support during this time, please do not hesitate to reach out to myself or anyone here at Old Colony Y. In times like these, it’s important that we all take a moment to simply “check in” with our teams, our friends, and our families. These conversations may be uncomfortable, but they are necessary as we attempt to move forward. Below, you’ll find links to resources you may find helpful this week and in the weeks to come.
Please stay safe,
Vincent J. Marturano
President & CEO
Old Colony Y “