We stand in solidarity with the movement for racial justice. The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are some of the latest tragic outcomes of ongoing structural and systemic racism that, in conjunction with the global health pandemic that is also disproportionately impacting Black people, serve as a stark reminder of the inequitable challenges, anti-black violence, and devaluing that so many in our community face. Let us be clear: Black Lives Matter.
While we have been heartened by the public protests and demonstrations in the past weeks, and the small wins that have been garnered during that time, we know that society must not stop there. We have to leverage the attention garnered by the protests to focus on the change we want to see, for we know all too well that we can expect more of the same if voices continue to go unheard, inequities continue to be unbalanced, and injustices continue to not be righted. This is not the world we want for our girls. It is not the world they deserve.
As a society, we were already grappling with how we will get back to normal post-pandemic, but we actually have an opportunity to move away from a “normal” we have collectively tolerated that was not working for many people in our community. If we choose to dig in and harness the momentum of this movement, there is the possibility that we can envision and co-create the change we want to see. We must seize this opportunity!
While we are proud of the critical work we do and deliberate choices we have made at Girls Inc. of Durham to provide trauma-informed supports and address inequities driven by structural racism in addition to gender bias so that we can support our girls, their families, our staff, and our community, there is still much more to be done. And frankly, it will take everyone working in solidarity across a broad spectrum to address the structural and systemic issues and move towards an anti-racist society.
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” ~Angela Davis
I ask you to join in this work, however you can, to take steps in our community, in our region, and in our nation towards a more just and equitable future. Girls Inc. of Durham is committed as ever to our mission and the work to break down the barriers that stand in their way. We remain focused on ensuring that girls in our community have the crucial supports they need to succeed.
- The right relationships—to let them know they are not alone, expose them to new pathways, and encourage them to take risks.
- Encouragement to develop and use their voices—to stand up for their beliefs, advocate for others, and influence and improve their communities.
- Positive self-image—to make positive choices, have confidence in their abilities, and know they are worthy and valuable.
- Intellectual confidence—to be curious about the world, think outside the box, and embrace life-long learning.
Change should not be entirely the responsibility of young people, however powerful they may be. We have a moral imperative to do everything we can to improve what will be their future. Each of us has to start from where we currently are, and we are understandably at different starting points, but whatever we do we have to keep moving forward and keep pushing for our country to live up to the promise of its ideals so that every young person truly has an opportunity to reach their full potential. Our girls deserve no less!
Yvette Nechvatal-Drew, Executive Director