This blog is unapologetically focused on the future, not the past. It is meant to start a conversation with the community I love that helps each one of us consider the part we play in moving us Forward. It’s up to us, right here, right now, to stop apologizing and complaining and do something different. It is meant to spark constructive conversations that focus on the positive, on a different future.
This week, our community has taken and continues to take action to heal. Many leaders, some hired by organizations and some earned by serving our community, are coming together to finally, authentically bridge the divide in our community. The crazy thing is, there are still people who still don’t understand the pain, grief, numbness, anger, and fear that so many in our community are feeling. The senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and so, so many others in our Black and Brown communities make it clear that we have a long, long way to go to remove the systemic and pervasive racism that permeates this country, this state, this county, and our community and its institutions.
As an organization, the Jackson Community Foundation has worked hard for many years to look inside our hearts, our policies, our beliefs and our values to change. We continually strive to live our values of advancing equity and embracing diversity and inclusion in our work. We are deeply committed to listening to and lifting up the voices of people who have not been heard to ensure that justice, equity, and fairness are felt by everyone. We seek a community where all can reach their fullest potential.
To review our Equity Statement, go to https://www.jacksoncf.org/equity-and-inclusion.
We know that this is a journey and not a destination. We know that we won’t always get it right or know what to do and when to do it, but we are committed to keep trying to push for the systemic change that is so desperately needed to create a society where race is not destiny. If you are looking for a way to start your journey, our board and staff have been using this tool produced by the Michigan League for Public Policy. The readings, videos, and thoughtful questions have helped give us direction in our discussions leading us to action. We will be posting the video on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/jacksoncf.org/ or our website www.jacksoncf.org on June 8th. Like our page and you will be kept up to date on good news in Jackson County!
If you are still reading this and you feel helpless, you probably wonder what you can do to help. There is a role for EVERY ONE of us to be able to tackle this journey. Not to get too existential here, but we are all interconnected and the success of one does not take away from the success of others. In fact, the success of all ensures that our community grows and thrives. Here a just a few things you can do:
DONATE to a Grassroots organization or a nonprofit doing good work (we can help guide you).
FEED PEOPLE by joining Brad’s Lunch Bunch and/or make a donation to an organization that helps fill our food pantries like the South Michigan Food Bank https://smfoodbank.org/give/
VOLUNTEER at nonprofit or church active supporting People of Color right now.
Continue to EDUCATE yourself and the people around you - this is emotional labor and you might make mistakes, but keep trying. Here are just a few that have been helpful for me:
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (nonfiction).
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo (nonfiction).
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (I listened to this book of fiction on Audible and the character voices are wonderful and the story is powerful).
WATCH KIDS Offer to of parents who are organizers or front-line workers.
CONFRONT RACISM wherever you see it, online and with family or friends.
SHARE LINKS to resources you find helpful.
WRITE articles and blog posts in support of the ongoing work to end racism.
ORGANIZE on your jobs and in your communities for fair and equitable policies and practices.
REST is revolutionary and inherently important, so do your best to rest when you can, and take care of yourself and those around you as much as possible.
If you are still reading and you want to be with us on this journey or have a generative conversation with me, please reach out to me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone at 787-1321 or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jacksoncf.org/
We are on this journey together and as long as we can continue to keep talking and listening, we’ve got this!