First, it is our hope that you and your families continue to be safe and healthy. We do not think any of us could have anticipated what 2020 would bring when we began this year. It has forced us to come together to overcome unprecedented challenges and support each other during a pivotal time in our nation.
When COVID-19 came upon us, we quickly formulated action plans. We rallied together and wanted to share ideas and information. We encouraged each other to do mental health checks with our friends, family, and colleagues. We united around creative ways to make a difference in our communities.
And then we were devastated as we watched in horror as another black man, George Floyd was murdered on camara in police custody yet again. We have recently witnessed three traumatizing murders on camera: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless other videos of racial and human injustice, all while dealing with a global pandemic of COVID-19.
It is concerning that the majority remained silent until the economic structure was potentially affected, and protestors began to display their hurt, anger and frustration by burning buildings in our great cities. George Floyd’s death, like Freddy Grey and so many others, is challenging us to look at ourselves and peers as we choose, knowingly or in ignorance, to perpetuate systemic racism and inequality.
We understand that it can be hard discussing racism and inequality in America because it makes us uncomfortable. And we have a duty to stand with our fellow brothers and sisters to ensure that all races and genders are treated fairly and equally.
We acknowledge the problem at hand, and we mourn with those families and the black community who are directly impacted by these tragedies.
With that being said, we ask you, our fellow members and friends of ULI Baltimore, to acknowledge that another virus is burning through our nation and we can no longer ignore its traumatic impact to all of us. We must rally together again!
The world has been inspired by Baltimore’s peaceful demonstrations in support of the antiracist movement. We will add to this powerful movement from nonviolence as something our children will be proud of and want to emulate.
And we believe real change starts with a commitment. A commitment to listening and demonstrating understanding of the stories of people of color. A commitment to creating space for the previously undervalued voices as esteemed members of the conversation and our culture. A commitment to identifying racist thoughts and actions in ourselves and our institutions and working to eliminate the power we give it. A commitment to treating all people with respect and dignity.
ULI Baltimore is committed to becoming the positive, life affirming change we want to see for our world and for those who come long after we are gone. Now it is your turn. We challenge you to consider: What will you commit to? What’s next?
We invite you to listen, learn, and get involved as we stand with our black community:
Listen to and share personal stories from those impacted by racism.
Facilitate and participate in training to help us identify individual and systemic racism in ourselves and in our culture.
Create opportunities for those who would not previously have considered our organization to feel welcome and valued.
Join the conversation and the movement as we set the next steps in this journey of healing and growth as a community. If you are interested in becoming a part of this conversation, please email Lisa Norris at Lisa.Norris@uli.org.
Josh Halbedel, ULI Baltimore, Chair
Lisa Norris, ULI Baltimore, Senior Director
Arrica Ashe. ULI Baltimore, Associate
Mehr Pastakia, ULI Baltimore, Associate
Kristian Spannhake, ULI Baltimore, Chair for Mission Advancement