In the months that have passed since the senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and far too many others, it is clear that it is well past the time to face up to the racial inequities and systemic injustices that allow these things to happen in our country.
The Y in Central Maryland is not so naïve as to think that our organization is exempt from such a reckoning. We are not. As such, we have undergone a multi-step process of introspection about our own culture, generating honest and sometimes painful dialogue about the extent to which our Y truly lives up to our values as an organization committed to “a better us.”
This process, which has involved our board, leadership team, associates from our African American Resource Network (AARN), as well as associates across the organization, requires us to face up to some real inequities and biases within our Y which must be addressed before we can honestly claim to be an organization which promotes equity and inclusion across all corners of our culture, work and community.
One key step in our process was to develop an equity statement that publically commits us to the work of becoming an anti-racist organization. This statement speaks to the journey we are on and our commitment to equality, equity and justice for all.
Our Equity Statement
The Y in Central Maryland strives to be an organization that reflects and celebrates the rich diversity of the communities we serve. In the face of the undeniable fact that systemic racism permeates our country’s institutions, including our Y, we believe that we need not only to respond to inequities when they are pointed out to us, but also to actively seek them out and address them. This is not only a moral imperative but will make us a stronger, more effective organization.
We recognize that inequities cause daily harm to the community we serve as well as to our own associates. We recognize that the Y was founded in the 1800s, excluding members of our community and that legacy has inevitably engendered systemic inequities. We are not proud of that portion of our history, but we acknowledge it and our obligation to dismantle systems that perpetuate it. Our Y seeks to be for all, and to be for all means that we clearly state that Black lives matter. By stating this, we are not lessening the value of other lives. It is a recognition that in the past and in the present, racism has resulted in unequal opportunities. It is a call for equality, equity and justice for all. All lives cannot matter until Black lives do.
In order for Black lives to matter, the Y commits to working every day to build communities in which people and families of color flourish, prosper and reach their fullest potential, and refuse to accept anything less. We commit ourselves to being an anti-racist organization by deepening our understanding of the impact of race, unconscious bias, and privilege on our daily lives.
We will focus our work on ensuring the equity and inclusion of all, with a laser focus on uplifting our marginalized communities. We do this with humility, recognizing that we must always first start within, aligning our internal systems, policies, processes and procedures with an equity lens. All Y associates will actively participate in this journey towards equity and anti-racism.
We will ensure that each and every one of our stakeholders, from associates, volunteers, members, program participants and funders embrace that equity and anti-racism are central to the Y’s mission and values. We expect and ask that all stakeholders hold us accountable in this journey towards making “For a better us” have real meaning.