Dear YMCA family,
At times like these words seem inadequate to express the sorrow, grief, and anger we are all feeling regarding the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and the ongoing violence toward black individuals and communities across our country. On behalf of the entire Duluth Area Family YMCA, our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Floyd’s family, friends, co-workers, and community, and with the families and communities of Mr. Arbery and Ms. Taylor as well. More importantly, our actions of solidarity and anti-racism are with them. Our Y team’s hearts are broken and our sadness is deep as we stand with all in our community who are devastated, disappointed, disgusted, and distressed by tragedies that were avoidable. Our team is also dedicated to doing work, each and every day, that contributes to the creation of a just and equitable world for all.
Tragedies like these can make us feel helpless and hopeless. Let’s not be either. Let’s be sad and angry, but only in ways which encourage us to rededicate ourselves to the work at hand. As Angela Davis said, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” I challenge each of us to think of the things that we can do, individually and collectively, big and small, to change the world for the better as we continue fighting to change the things we cannot accept.
At our YMCA, diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the center of all that we do, and we are committed to being active allies and partners to communities of color. We know that taking a stand is not enough and that we have work to do. Our organization is traveling on a journey to build the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion into all of our operations, as well as to model those principles as we advance our mission. We are imperfect, we are learning, we are listening, and we are at work on this all the time. We will continue to educate ourselves and to center this work in the days, months, and years to come and to challenge ourselves to listen, to see, and to act bravely in the face of injustice.
This is a dark time, but we can all be lights in the dark. I believe that the Y’s values of caring, honesty, responsibility, and respect will continue to guide us as we navigate the challenges that our community and our country face. As always, I am proud to stand with you, even in the most difficult times. If I can be helpful or supportive to you or your family or if you would simply like to continue this conversation, I hope that you will not hesitate to reach out to me directly.
I have a sign in my office that reminds me that our heart is a muscle the size of our fist and that we should keep loving and keep fighting. That feels as true to me as anything.
We have work to do.
Let’s keep doing it.