Dear Members of the Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club Community:
We are certain that many of you shared the same feeling we did while watching the video of George Floyd’s killing—Anger, Confusion, Horror, Sadness. We are angry at the state of racial inequity in our society. And we condemn all acts of racism and discrimination. There is so much heartbreak, fear, pain and anger across our country right now, and the level of trauma that so many young people –particularly young people of color – continue to experience is hard to process. We have struggled with all the footage on the news and thinking of how children, who are watching, must be feeling.
To the members of the Black community, we cannot fully comprehend what you are going through but we want you to know that we stand with you, we support you, and we are here for you as allies. This is not only a critical moment in American history, but a formative one for our young people. As our kids try to make sense of their world and find their way on the path towards personal empowerment and civic engagement, the Club will be right alongside them, as a network of support & safety in the fight for justice.
As we try to sort out all these feelings, it is easy to say to ourselves: “what can I do? I am just one person”—but if things are going to change, we must act by increasing our level of awareness, recognizing what is going on and then doing something. Opposing racism is everyone’s responsibility, not only those who feel it’s impact, we must commit to helping each other improve and do better today than we did yesterday.
At Grenville Baker we have a responsibility to take action against racial inequity and discrimination in our society. Any steps we take must be filled with facts, no matter how uncomfortable those facts might be. So at Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club, we will begin with a deep, long look at ourselves, to identify what biases might exist in ourselves. We regularly hold staff trainings and discussions about inclusion, diversity and personal biases, but we will do more. I have asked Melissa Rhodes, Director of Programs and Professional Development to research and develop strategies for diversity and inclusion programming that begins with our youngest members and run through to our alumni. We will start by weaving these plans into our programming and we will share information as it is developed.
We pride ourselves on having staff that represent all segments of our community. Each of us at Grenville Baker have a responsibility to help the children and families of our community with the challenges that come their way—for me, that responsibility is as clear today as it’s ever been. It is important for us to all continue identifying our personal biases and educating ourselves now and in the future in order to create real change. I know these times are troubling, but as long as there are children, our Club will be here….and as long as we are here, children will have a safe place.
We know that the news may lose focus of this in the future but we promise that we will continue to educate ourselves and Club members. Any real changes in this country have occurred when people have worked together towards a common goal. We are always here for the children and families of our community.
Ramon Reyes Executive Director