In June of last year our agency issued a statement decrying the unrelenting injustices experienced by Black communities and people of color across the United States and here in Southwest Michigan.
We are again compelled to lift up diversity, equity and inclusion as tenets of our work to empower change within our community and ignite the potential of our community’s children. We work to show our youth they matter, they are loved, and they belong.
STANDING IN SOLIDARITY
The recent events in Georgia, coupled with a long history of systemic and emergent injustices perpetuated against Asian communities, reinforce the need for our agency to again state that we stand in solidarity with communities of color in Southwest Michigan.
As an organization and as people, we reaffirm that we do not tolerate racism, oppression, hatred, violence or injustice in our community or across our country.
Last year, we stated that we do not “have all the answers and we know there is still more work to do.” There is still more work to do.
This remains true, and yet it’s with hope for the future that we recognize the progress made in the last year and that we continue to speak out. As a local nonprofit organization, our duty of care is to our community and the children and families we work with. We will not be silent. To remain silent is to be complicit.
STAND WITH US
Standing together and lifting our voices against hate and injustice is one way we create change. As a member of our Big Brothers Big Sisters community, we encourage you to stand with us and create the change we need here in Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Van Buren and Allegan counties.
Join local organizations that support justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion work. In Michigan, Rising Voices of Asian American Families is working to engage the AAPI electorate to affect change. In Battle Creek, the Burma Center works to support the Burmese and Battle Creek communities through advocacy, engagement, and education to support the whole person. There are many others! Join the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission on Friday for a virtual training entitled, “Past and Present: Anti-Asian Sentiment and Racism — What we can do about it now.”
We call on community officials, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals to stand with us. At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we hold space for our Asian staff, leaders, Bigs, Littles and their families that are processing grief, trauma, and fear during the recent events that took place in Atlanta and across this country.
But this is not just a personal problem with personal solutions. What happened last week in Georgia is inseparable from the long standing injustices experienced across communities of color. It is inseparable from ongoing violence against women.
Last week’s violence is also inseparable from increasingly anti-Asian rhetoric in our society. That rhetoric seeks to maintain the unjust status quo, dehumanize and “other” Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) individuals and communities. This has so often happened with Asian individuals and communities and other Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals and communities, sometimes with deadly aims, and perpetuates systems of inequity and inequality.
We will continue to drive forward the positive change that we strive to support and lift up each day, and that we work to infuse in our agency’s policies and actions. Justice, equity, diversity and inclusion must be inseparable from the work we do to ignite the power and potential of youth in our community.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In the same way, hate and violence directed at Asian Americans is a threat to us all.
OUR YOUTH ARE WATCHING
We must not stand idly by. Our youth require more of us in this moment and beyond. They are watching our response and demand us to be better stewards of our actions.
Stand with us to speak out against what is wrong and commit to making it right. We are #BiggerTogether.
We welcome your insight and thoughts about how we can work together to make a difference in Southwest Michigan. Click here to share your thoughts with our team.
Chief Executive Officer
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Michigan