There are two truths about today. First, we have never had an inbox so full of statements about Juneteenth. To be blunt and truthful, we have rarely had any emails about Juneteenth in years past. This is new for us. Juneteenth is a holiday that has long been recognized and celebrated within the Black community, but less so among other racial groups. The onslaught of attention, at least to us, feels both important and self-serving. As I Support the Girls prepared to, for the first time, take a day off in acknowledgement, we debated what would be most meaningful.
In the midst of the continued Black Lives Matter movement and our national belated awakening to longstanding systemic racial inequities, awareness of implicit biases becomes even more imperative. It is not enough to be inclusive and aware, but rather necessary to make an explicit statement of intentional inclusion of Black history in our organizational framework.
We want to do more than make a one-time e-mail statement. We want this to be not just a day off, but instead a day of true learning and reflection about the privileges we enjoy based on skin color. We want to think about how we, as an organization, can truly effect change from within our existing structure.
This leads to the second truth. I Support the Girls is a very diverse organization, including Affiliates of many races and ethnicities, immigrants, LGBTQ persons, socioeconomic classes, and abilities. But our leadership team is white. It wasn’t purposeful. Each person on the team began as volunteers and transitioned into their positions based on their skills and experience. However, we have long recognized that we need to diversify our small team. The opportunities are few, as we have such a small number of staff at this point, but as we grow and move forward we will make every effort to keep inclusion at the forefront, including evaluating our job postings to ensure they attract the very best candidates of all colors. Additionally, as a non-profit organization that is focused on Board expansion and development this year, we will actively be looking for more people of color to join our Board.
In the meantime, many of our partners and stakeholders are BIPOC. With their input, we will ensure that their voices are better amplified within our work. We will do more than pay lip service to diversity by ensuring this amplification includes decision-making power and programmatic influence. We strive to be aware of inclusivity in our social media posts, emails, and messaging, and we will continue to always ask ourselves if there is any way we can do better.
Taking these two truths into account, I Support the Girls pledges to continue our education around systemic racism, our commitment to active inclusion, and our conversations with diverse communities. Systemic change doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it easy. But it is critical. And it feels like the United States is finally in a place in history where we are ready to acknowledge, address, and begin true change. It’s going to be a long road, and it’s going to be bumpy. But we are committed to change. Consider this our voice adding to the chorus celebrating Juneteenth this year, next year, and every year, as we strive together for an equitable society.
Artist: Bente van de Wouw