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(Addressing HopeWell MFP Youth)
“I’m writing you today to acknowledge the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many more unheard-of black Americans at the hands of racism and white supremacy. For people of color, and black folks in particular, this is nothing new. Smart phones and social media have simply allowed us to live-capture the brutality and murder that would otherwise go unseen.
We recognize that the violence against black people is tied to our racist history and has implications for us all. As a learning organization primarily staffed by and serving people of color, we have a responsibility to acknowledge the impact of institutional racism on our mission. Black and brown youth are disproportionately in and aging out of the foster care system and we see this as the direct result of institutional racism. For us to be effective in supporting you, we must view our work through this lens.
As a man of color, I have experienced brutality and violence first-hand. Because of my skin color and ethnic background I have been beaten, assaulted, harassed and withheld access to opportunity. And while that is painful and unjust, I recognize that my identity as a bi-racial man is very different than if I were black.
To borrow from the great civil rights attorney, author and activist Bryan Stevenson, HopeWell is committed to a process of truth and reconciliation. Truth about our racist history and reconciliation with its impact on our lives today. This process includes all of us, white folks and people of color. Our ability to heal and move forward can only be found together.
Above everything, I want you to know that we stand by you. We hear you. We see you. We will be allies for a just cause and do all we can to eliminate the inequity that has impacted so many. Often the experience of youth is written off or ignored and we are here to say we will amplify and raise your voice. We stand for justice and we stand with you. My proverbial door is always open and if you ever want to reach me, I would love to hear from you. Being a youth, in particular a youth of color, can be a lonely place. If it wasn’t for mentors and others taking me under their wing, I wouldn’t be here today and its our honor to be there for you.
For those of you who decide to protest, we support your choice. We care about you, so hope you do so peacefully and safely. You inspire me with your courage, your determination and your will to overcome all odds. You are beautiful and worthy of celebration. We thank you for the privilege of walking alongside you on your journey and will do all we can to support your goals no matter the challenge thrown your way.