At the Community Foundation, we are committed to operationalizing racial equity in our policies and practices, and our Racial Equity Statement below further details that commitment. We’ll continue this important conversation with updates on our internal action steps, and we urge our fellow community members to join us on this journey.
Over the past several months, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the many social, economic, and health disparities that are the consequences of systemic racism in our communities. The murder of George Floyd was a breaking point, and since then we have witnessed people banding together to protest the injustices and inequalities that can no longer be ignored.
These events have resulted in much being said about the dual pandemics—COVID-19 and racism—afflicting Black and Brown communities, culminating in dozens of cities and counties across the country declaring racism a public health crisis. Locally, the cities of Youngstown and Warren have made such declarations, and Mahoning and Trumbull Counties are also considering making similar statements.
Because of this growing and ongoing dialogue, we feel it is important at this time to examine our own work and respond to the injustices inflicted upon our communities because of racism.
First, we want to pledge our support to local Black and Brown community members who fight against the consequences of decades of policies and practices rooted in racism. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are just three of thousands of precious lives that deserve to be defended and whose families and communities deserve justice. Even in the short time that has passed since George Floyd was murdered, too many names of people who were killed for being Black have appeared in the headlines or on our screens.
In addition to these individuals thrust into the spotlight by tragedy, our friends and neighbors experience racial injustice and threats to their lives each and every day, right here in the Mahoning Valley. We cannot rise up in support of Black lives only after someone is killed or after their harassment is captured on video. We must commit our support every day. This commitment must show up in our work, relationships, and activities, not just our words.
That brings us to the second reason for our statement, which is to hold ourselves publicly accountable to do better and take direct action. Philanthropy has long been guilty of perpetuating racial inequities, if not enacting them, and the Community Foundation is not exempt from allowing some of these harmful practices to continue. We are deeply sorry for decisions that have been made that allowed inequity and racism to continue, unquestioned and uninterrupted. We can and will do better.
While we do not yet have a finalized plan in place, CFMV is committed to dedicating resources to identify strategies leading us towards improving our policies, practices, and relationships to become more anti-racist as a philanthropic organization. We will develop action steps in each of the three areas in which we operate: Investing strategically in the Valley; Collaborating with the community for positive change; and Anchoring charitable dollars for the Valley.
CFMV knows that to stay silent would be to betray our mission to “improve the quality of life for all residents.” There is no way for us to make meaningful progress in health and human services, community well-being, education, arts and culture, or economic growth without addressing the systemic racism that perpetually undermines those initiatives. Addressing racism in our country, in our state, in our community, and the inequalities that stem from that racism, is the only way we will make progress on our mission and move closer to the vibrant and inclusive Mahoning Valley we hope one day we become.