By Audrey Suker, CEO of ServeMinnesota
As each statement of heartbreak and grief over the killing of George Floyd appears in my in-box I find myself saying “YES, I feel the same way.” Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) continue to experience injustices that produce and sustain inequitable outcomes that contribute to the significant gaps in many quality of life indicators nation-wide. It is clear that George Floyd, and so many others before him, should have never experienced these systemic inequities that ultimately contributed to the loss of life. So what does this call us to do at ServeMinnesota?
First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge the grief and pain that many of our staff and community partners are experiencing, particularly in our Black community. I recognize the anger and sadness in response to this tragedy is compounded by countless other similar tragedies. Please support one another and take self-care as we navigate this difficult healing process.
We are committed to equity, justice and peace while engaging in anti-racist practices. We will demonstrate that commitment by building career pathways for BIPOC AmeriCorps members; strategically reaching greater numbers of students to eliminate Minnesota’s racial education gap; dismantling barriers to service for BIPOC AmeriCorps members; and providing professional development opportunities for all our staff and the staff of our programs to enhance their equity and inclusion skills.
We also are exploring a new application process in which organizations at the heart of restoring communities in Minneapolis and St. Paul can request AmeriCorps members to serve their needs. We will seek guidance from the communities affected regarding all the ways AmeriCorps members could be integrated into their solutions. We are grateful for the flexibility in our federal funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service that will allow us to leverage the funding needed to place as many as 100 AmeriCorps members to support community rebuilding efforts.
I share in the heartbreak and grief of this moment and the continued patterns of systemic racism that it illuminates. We believe Black Lives Matter, but simply saying it is not enough; our actions must reflect our commitment. Now more than ever, we must listen to our communities so that we can be the catalyst for positive social change that we strive to be.