Dear Providers’ Council Members:
The savage imagery of George Floyd handcuffed on the curb, gasping for breath, from a Minneapolis police officer’s knee to his neck, slowly snuffing out his life, is a clarion call that America’s original sin of racism still breathes death, destruction and hatred.
It was nine minutes of a sadistic murder witnessed, but its merely a nanosecond of racism and oppression in the hundreds of years of our African American history. We know what happened to George Floyd was no anomaly. Recently, we witnessed Ahmaud Arbery being gunned down on a daily jog, Breonna Taylor executed by police in her home and Sean Reed, another unarmed man, shot by police. So was 13-year-old Antwon Rose, Stephon Clark, Tamir Rice, Philander Castile, Michael Brown and the list is long and unnerving.
It is a sin that has permeated every aspect of our society from jobs — where African Americans in Greater Boston have a median net worth of $8 compared to white Bostonians $247,500 — to health care — where blacks representing 13 percent of the population accounted for one-third of Coronavirus deaths due to a disparate health care system. You can look to virtually any indicator and it leads to the core issue … we live in a racist society that will remain so unless all of us, including those of white privilege, are courageous enough to assert ourselves to form a society of liberty and justice for all.
The time is long past due for justice. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
James Baldwin, author, philosopher and one of our nation’s greatest truth tellers said, “What is it that you wanted me to reconcile myself to. I was born here more than 60 years ago. I’m not going to live another 60 years. You always told me that it’s going to take time. It’s taken my father’s time, my mother’s time, my uncle’s time, my brothers’ and my sisters’ time, my nieces and my nephew’s time. How much time do you want for your progress?”
We don’t have time to wait.
And as a human services sector, we know quite well about justice and equality. We fight for it every day for those seeking our support. But we have to speak it, practice it and live it for racial equity and justice. The work for social justice isn’t the work for just brown and black people — it is, as Baldwin said, “your progress.” The Council has been helping to broaden understanding on race equity and helping us stay woke. We are committed to making the theme of our Convention as SpeakUp4Equity. It is equity that we need to demand and remain unsettled until we have it for all. Join us in becoming woke and then activate to make change.
We encourage you to share a simple black square on your social media with the hashtag #BlackOutTuesday. Consistent with this campaign, the Providers’ Council will be ceasing normal business operations at noon on Tuesday, June 2, and we will instead ask our staff to direct their actions to support racial justice, awareness and peace, helping to elevate the movement for true racial justice. We have posted at our @MassCouncil and @TheCaringForce social media channels; we encourage you do to the same for your organization.
If you wish to make a contribution to organizations that are promoting racial justice and are engaged in this work, here are a few for you to consider.
We thank you for the work you do in the human services sector every day and for also supporting racial justice throughout Massachusetts and all across America.