Creating Statement of Support for Equity & Racial Justice Robert L. Dortch Jr. | June 20, 2020

During this moment, I'm being asked about creating statements and leaders and organizations are asking what should we say and do during this time? As I'm asked about statements, I encourage organizations to consider the following:

  1. How does your statement acknowledge the historical injustices of structural and systemic racism?
  2. How do you use the document to bring about awareness concerning systemic and structural racism to your audiences?
  3. How does the statement align with your organization's mission?
  4. Is your organization willing to be an ally in supporting the work? If so, how?
  5. What is the call to action and commitment to the work? Examples can include:
    1. How do you plan to alleviate barriers and create access to opportunities to bring about equitable and just outcomes, internally and/externally?
    2. How do you plan to leverage the various forms of capital (social, reputational, relational) financial, intellectual) that are at your disposal to address the issues?

Note: Be sure that the language isn't deficit based and doesn't victimize or perpetuate stereotypes that negate the impact of your message.

I have always been enamored with the sky. Each morning I look up and the sky reminds me that everyday is a new day, subject to change without notice. One day last week, the sky was filled with smoky clouds trying to contain a sun whose breakthrough would not be denied. Yesterday the sky was a vibrant hue of blues combined with a dynamic expression of colorful movement by the clouds and this morning the sky was like a blank canvas waiting for the artist to be inspired. My life is like the sky, constantly changing.

During this pandemic, my work has accelerated but my life has slowed down. I've been challenged to rethink my priorities. What I thought was important isn't as important as I once believed. During this time, I've recognized this intersectionality between privilege, pain and purpose. I've been afforded the privilege of being able to do meaningful work remotely and never leaving the comforts of my home, unless I choose to do so. At the same time, I struggle because many family members and others do not have that same choice, as they risk their lives every day to survive or to serve on the frontlines to help save others. With privilege comes responsibility to be a part of an integrated solution that takes into account health, the economy, environment, policies, and just as importantly, spirituality. Yes. I believe that faith and spirituality are a required part of the solution, unless we include faith into the conversation, history shows us that we'll find ourselves repeating mistakes of the past.

This pandemic has amplified, exposed and accelerated generations of pre-existing issues in our community, especially for people of color.  Personally, I've experienced the pain and the uncertainties of this pandemic and at the same time a reminder that Black lives are always at risk and with that comes an ongoing trauma that only those who live in our skin can understand.

By slowing down, simple pleasures like drinking a hot cup of tea with fresh lemon, ginger and honey, or just chilling on my patio listening to the birds freestyle in song and daily check-ins with my parents to hear about their day, have become priceless gifts that I cherish like a breath of fresh air. These moments have provided much needed perspective and sanctuary as I wrestle with these questions:

  • What really matters?
  • If I have only 30 days left how would spend those days?
  • What is my personal responsibility and how do I leverage my privilege to serve others?
  • What will my legacy be?
These questions have become necessary and will continue to linger in my spirit for the foreseeable future. Yet, I realize that this is only one chapter no matter how long it may feel. During a recent conversation with a group of emerging leaders, I reminded them that we don't become ancestors just because we die, but we become ancestors because of how we live and what we leave behind that will help others long after our time here on earth is finished.

  As I open the door,
A rising sun kisses my face
Morning dew rises creating a sacred space
Good morning to this new day dawning 
Trees sway and the breeze makes me smile
The air moods me to stay with her for awhile
Dog walking masked strangers wave Hi
Birds ascend in skies blue with smoky clouds nearby
Silence comes for a second
I'm home alone but I'm not alone
Nonstop calls zooming into my peace
This is a serene yet dangerous scene
For God's sake don't mistake and forget we're in a pandemic state
Daily updates to remind us of our potential fate
Is an invisible death lurking nearby?
This crisis is real
Can't put into words this mood I feel
Will peace be still?
I'm so confused and yet amused by the breaking news
Will there be protest from virtual pews?
Are we open for business and closed for blessings?
Will history call this a magnificent moment or a murderous one?
Yet I still can see the sun 
What kind of day will this be?
Just look up at the sky
What do you see?
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