We are grieving. Our Black colleagues, moms, caregivers, teachers, and partners are not okay.
We at Girls Leadership stand with the Black communities across the country to fight injustice and institutionalized racism. We commit to fight harder to support our girls, families, and teachers of color. We will use our platform to address the systems of oppression, especially our education systems, which disproportionately silence Black girls.
Finding your voice and using it for good is at the heart of who we are. We teach our girls how to amplify their voice and not shy away from uncomfortable conversations. When they hesitate, they tell us they are scared, that they don’t want to be judged, that silence is safer. We are witnessing the result of centuries of such silence, in a culture of white supremacy. Silence perpetuates the environmental, health, and economic conditions that lead Black people to die from COVID-19 at a rate of three times their white peers. Silence normalizes our reality that the median Black family has only 10% of the wealth of the median white family before the hit of an economic crisis. And silence creates the conditions for the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
The time is here to speak. When we ask our program participants what holds them back from speaking, the most common things we hear are fear of judgement and fear of criticism. In this time of unrest, when men and women are dying, let’s embrace judgement and criticism as welcome discomforts in service of our much higher goal.
Join us in the fight for equity, inclusion, and peace.
I know this will look different for each of us. For me, as a white mom and a nonprofit leader, this means reaching out to Black friends and colleagues to tell them that I care and that I am here for them. It means talking to my two young kids, 6 and 8, and asking them to create lists of what being an ally looks like. It means centering and listening to the voices of Black leaders and colleagues. It means doing my learning and processing in private, and my support and activism in public. It means fighting for the future of Girls Leadership, an organization that centers its work on the needs of our most marginalized girls.
I know each of your lists will look different, reflecting your individual identity, values, and culture. The call is universal. As Michelle Obama said in response to the recent murder of George Floyd, “Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it,” she wrote. “It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out.”
Today and every day our team will answer this call for honest and uncomfortable work to realize a future of greater equity and inclusion. I hope you’ll be with us.
CEO + Co-Founder
All kinds of powerful.