Black Lives Matter: A statement on the murder of George Floyd and a call-to-action from YW Boston 

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As we mourn the loss of another Black life as a result of racism and anti-Blackness, YW Boston wishes to extend our deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd and to our Black community across the United States. We express our solidarity with activists, protestors, our YWCA colleagues in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul communities and throughout the nation, and all those who took to the streets to demand justice for the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, as well as countless others known and unknown, and to protest the perpetual, systemic racism and anti-Blackness that pervade our nation.  

 

As an organization that has been dedicated to gender and racial equity for over 150 years—and whose mission is to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all—we at YW Boston implore everyone in our community, especially those in positions of leadership and law enforcement, to critically and radically examine how we, as individuals, continue to uphold racist systems and perpetuate racism. 
 

To my fellow Black Americans, I am with you. I support you. I know that the injustices in the current media spotlight are only the tip of the iceberg. The Black community has endured generations of pain and systemic discrimination, and everyday racism persists within our communities and institutions. I am with you as we honor those who have fought for racial justice before us and for all of us who are coming together to continue working towards racial equity for our family, friends, and for ourselves. As my children get older, the urgency for the success of this work only increases. I don’t want to be remembered for doing nothing or for giving up. I want to be remembered for doing all that I can to eliminate racism and empower women. I hope that we also continue to center those who are most vulnerable within our own community—Black women and Black LGBTQ+ individuals.  

 

To our supporters who are people of color, I urge you to show up in solidarity. Whether that be emotionally, physically, financially, legally, medically, or in any way that you can. What we are experiencing today is not an isolated White and Black problem. I urge you to recognize, inspect, and disrupt the ways in which anti-Blackness pervades communities of color. Racism is not experienced equally and communities of color can also perpetuate anti-Blackness. Show up as allies and follow the lead of the Black community. 
 

To our White supporters, I urge you to inspect any feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and discomfort that may arise during this time. Then, channel those feelings into action. Neutrality only serves to uphold oppressive systems and inaction continues to cost lives. It’s imperative to first listen to Black perspectives and to also respect individual privacy and boundaries. Do the work to deconstruct your own notions and don’t place the emotional burden on Black people to assist you in this individual work. Continuously assess your own biases and educate yourself. Then, utilize your networks and access to educate and mobilize your White peers.  
 

To our entire community, I urge you to think critically about the ways other systems of oppression—such as capitalism, classism, and police brutality—serve to reinforce racism. Demand that our leaders and elected officials prioritize the protection of Black lives over the protection of the status quo. If you can afford to go about your day as if this doesn’t personally affect you, think about how you can use your privilege and power to support those who are fighting for their freedom, dignity, and peace. If you have the option to look away, you have the biggest responsibility not to do so. Assume that racism exists everywhere, because it does, and then do your part to dismantle it. 

 
 

How do we move forward? 

Our collective goal should be to address racism within policies, practices, behaviors, systems, and institutions so that we can move closer towards racial equity. Otherwise, these tragedies could be reduced to isolated incidents and we will not be able to address the root of the problem. We must prioritize racial justice and anti-racism in every facet of our lives—from the individual to the collective. I urge you to demand accountability from your peers, elected officials, community leaders, and within your own workplace and industry. Support national and local organizations working towards racial justice. And finally, reach out for help if you need it. YW Boston can help organizations across all sectors and industries to prioritize equity and inclusion.  

 

In solidarity,

Beth Chandler

Beth Chandler 

President & CEO 

YW Boston 

  

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About YW Boston 

As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and F.Y.R.E. Initiative, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed. 

As part of that work, we are helping organizations prioritize Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and become socially connected while staying physically distant. During this time, YW Boston is providing organizations with digital workshops and resources to help them better understand the challenges faced by their employees. For more information, please contact Sheera Bornstein at sbornstein@ywboston.org.