I feel compelled to write this as an attempt to give voice to the many emotions we are all feeling—anger, fear, hopelessness, and confusion, to name only a few.
My first reaction upon seeing the horrifying video of George Floyd being murdered by that police officer was, “Again? Again?” And of course, this was only weeks after we all saw the video of Ahmaud Arbery being hunted and shot and killed for the audacious act of actually going out for a jog. (And we all know those men would never have been charged if the video had not in fact been released to the public; the police let them off when the killing happened in February.) Then there was the killing of Breonna Taylor in March by plainclothes police, for the equally audacious act of sleeping in her own apartment. And then there was Tony McDade, a Black trans man who was shot by police days after George Floyd’s murder.
And we can go back and back and back, an endless string of assaults and murders of innocent people of color, so often at the hands of the police, the very individuals who are designated by our cities and states and countries to protect others and maintain the peace.
To those of you who support us here at Spectrum and who are people of color, all I can say is: I’m sorry. I’m sorry you live in a country where going for a simple jog means putting your life at risk. I’m sorry that by wearing a hoodie, you can be murdered, and the person who did it set free. I’m sorry that by lying down in your own bed in your own home you may very well be killed for doing so because of the color of your skin.
We have such a long way to go as a country, a state, a city, and yes, as a nonprofit organization.
I am proud of the work we’ve done at Spectrum in our programs, to outreach to youth and families of color and to those who are new to this country, and in terms of the training of staff we’ve done. But I’d be kidding myself if I said, “That’s great, we’re done.” And that’s because we’re not done in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion, for the very reason that we’re never done when it comes to those things.
One of our staff members, Aden Haji, a Burlington School Board Commissioner and a Multicultural Youth Program Outreach Worker at Spectrum, was interviewed by Vermont Public Radio yesterday and said this:
“I support and stand in solidarity with protesters. The reason why I went is because I live it every day. Just being Black, you already have a target on your back. To go to the park and protest and see how many people were there was empowering, but there’s definitely much more that we could do.”
I and the rest of the Spectrum staff and board are committed to creating a future where people are free from racial terror.
As Aden said, we have work to do.
Mark Redmond, Executive Director