We, like many around the world, are experiencing grief, shock, rage, pain, and fear: another Black life has been taken at the hands of police. The murder of George Floyd cast an even starker light on the systemic racism, injustice, and inequity that has existed for centuries within the United States.
While in recent days there has been widespread attention on the death of George Floyd, we would be remiss not to acknowledge that events of police and civilian brutality toward people of color—and the acceptance thereof—are not new. The list of names is endless. Just a single generation in this country has seen the unjust murders or racially charged attacks of Emmitt Till, Rodney King, Amadou Diallo, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, and Freddie Gray. Today we mourn Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. These are just the names we know best; there are countless other victims.
These acts of violence are only one aspect of a greater system of inequities and injustices. Take for instance the disproportionate impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color. Consider redlining and gentrification, which have historically disrupted and displaced communities of color. Or consider the disproportionate rates of incarceration of Black men, or disparities in educational systems in communities of color. Again, the list goes on.
Most inequities that lead to these injustices show up every day in structural, yet often overlooked ways.
At PYXERA Global, we have worked for thirty years to enrich lives and livelihoods, inclusively and sustainably. We have believed that this work implicitly addresses issues of equity. Our programming is designed to lift underserved communities and positively impact systems change in the United States and on six continents.
This is not enough. It never was.
As an organization that strives to improve the world, we have assumed that indirectly tackling the inequities that result from racism was a useful approach. We have been treating the symptoms rather than the core disease. We acknowledge that racism is not solely an American issue, but we now painfully admit that we have fallen short of explicitly ensuring the very lives and livelihoods we aim to enrich are inclusive of those right in our own backyard.
Structural racism is antithetical to our mission and vision of a more just world. We now accept that, in the words of Angela Davis, “it is not enough to be non-racist; we must be [actively and vocally] anti-racist.”
We do not have all the answers. Instead, we have a lot of hard work to do.
As an organization, we spent last week in dialogue—listening, speaking, learning, and beginning to unlearn—to inform how to move forward as individuals and together as an organization with our clients and partners.
In the near term, we commit to:
- educating ourselves,
- having uncomfortable conversations internally and with our friends and families,
- providing time for staff to meaningfully and actively engage in work that gets at the roots of structural racism,
- looking at systems and how we might develop direct programming that addresses the system of structural racism, and
- directly talking to our clients and partners about structural racism and how this informs their programs and work, even when it is difficult.
This cannot be a moment that falls from our collective attention when the media’s focus shifts. We can no longer go back to having trust in a flawed system; we must commit to changing it. And changing a system begins with engagement. We encourage you to join us in being intentionally and actively inquisitive and uncomfortable in having difficult conversations with your friends and family and in your professional circles.
We will continue this conversation and integrate it into our work in the months, years, and decades to come. We will report back to you in the coming months and will continue to call on you as our clients, partners, friends, and contemporaries to do this as well.
The murder of George Floyd was the ember that reignited an already smoldering fire. We commit to doing our part to extinguish the long-burning fire of structural racism; we expect you, as people who support our work toward a better world, to do the same.
Staff from across our global team took ownership in drafting the basis of this response, and these statements represent the essence of PYXERA Global’s mission and the commitments and aspirations that we have as an organization.