George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. Freddie Gray. Philando Castille. Tony McDade. Sandra Bland.
I say their names knowing that there are so many other Black Americans who have died before them at the hands of institutional and systemic racism and police violence. As a white woman, I cannot imagine the deep and distinct trauma that must be endured by my Black neighbors. What it must do to a person to live every day with an overwhelming amount of injustices within their community, a target on their backs from racial hate and miseducation, and so many heavy emotions. It boggles my mind and breaks my heart.
As a leader at Iona, I have a responsibility to this community to use my voice and my position to openly and loudly affirm that Black Lives Matter. We stand in solidarity with those seeking justice for victims of police violence and racist brutality.
As a leader at Iona, I also have a responsibility to ensure our work is rooted in anti-racism. Supporting our diverse clients and participants by keeping them healthy and safe means that as a staff we must also actively be anti-racist in our work. To be fully healthy and safe means to be free from racism and discrimination, and this extends to our clients, participants, staff, volunteers, donors, and entire community.
Additionally, we must continue to be relentless in making services accessible to all. We honor this work as we set out to open a new adult day health center in Southeast DC to help address inequities in access to vital services for marginalized older adults and family members in Washington, DC.
However, there is no single action to take to be anti-racist. We all must make a continuous commitment to this work.
My pledge as Executive Director at Iona is to make that commitment abundantly clear and to deepen Iona’s pursuit to be an anti-racist and inclusive organization as a staff and within our programming and services.
On that end, our directors are actively seeking and researching anti-racist education for our staff, and exploring other tangible actions we can take to ensure our Black employees have the resources they need to feel supported and our non-black employees have resources to address inherent bias. This commitment will take shape as we continue to listen to our community and address vital and necessary needs. If you have other ideas, we welcome your feedback.
I often end my messages thanking you for being a part of our community of care. Today, I must add that to truly be a community of care, we must continue to prove it. Institutional racism does not directly affect each of us equally, but we all have a role to play in fighting it. Because we all lose where racism is present.
Thank you for joining us in this commitment.
Sally S. White