My synapses are firing, and I’m full of appreciation and joy!
Last night, hundreds of you joined us in a discussion with Wes Moore – about race, structural racism, hope, and passion. We also heard from a local panel, featuring Bebe Coker, Rev. Edwin Estevez, Alonna Berry and Charito Calvachi-Mateyko, responding to Wes and sharing their thoughts about where we are, and where we need to go.
Thank you to everybody who participated.
There is so much to digest and think about, but a few items stuck hard with me.
The racial awareness that has come about in 2020 is not, said Wes, because of something different that happened this year vs. last. Killings of, and harassment of, black men and boys have been with us for a long time, and are not going away. What’s different now is that we are in a movement, not a moment. And at some point, we will reach a time when we will say, “Can you believe racial justice was something people had to fight for?”
Wes also reminded us that we do not have the luxury of “looking past race,” when race remains the most accurate predictor of life outcomes in America.
Wes reminded us that every person’s story matters, and every story is interesting “because it is that person’s story.” Unfortunately, we too often don’t know people’s stories until it is too late.
And there’s not really room to discuss the powerful statements by all of our panelists. Suffice it to say, they were great.
Finally I appreciate that so many of us want to make progress. In his book Five Days, Wes says, “The figures in this book were each, in their way, fighting to prevent the tragedy of Freddie Gray from playing out again and again…In their small victories and looming failures, they revealed to me the importance of individual changemakers and the indispensable necessity of collective action.”
As for us at the DCF, we believe that collective and individual action to reduce racial inequities is and must remain central to all of our work. The work is not just a one-time thing, but will imbue all we do.
We are engaging in this work in a number of ways.
• Right now, in partnership with the Rodel Foundation, we are pleased to say that we will support a Delaware participant in the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund, a national initiative co-chaired by Wes.
• We are developing new grant opportunities focused on better supporting and investing in leaders of color, the organizations they lead, and the communities they serve.
• We are implementing recommendations of the fellows who were part of our Community Equity Project – their work will be featured on the DCF website in the upcoming weeks.
• And we are continuing to participate with the Delaware Racial Justice Collaborative being coordinated by our partners at the United Way of Delaware.
We are on a path. And we all have a part to play. And (using Alonna Berry’s metaphor), while none of us alone can move the wall, we all need to work hard on moving our individual bricks.