I know I am not alone when I say that I am deeply saddened by the recent and senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and David McAtee, all black individuals who look like me, my family members, and loved ones. While these tragedies are sadly not the first, they have weighed heavily on our already burdened hearts and have highlighted the painful awareness that racial, economic, and social issues still very much exist and deeply divide us. Although the African American community is bearing a great weight from these most recent deaths, the underlying issue at hand isn’t one that affects black people alone. The reform that is needed will have a profound impact on and advance the cause of justice for our entire community and nation.
United Way of the Bluegrass has long been aware of how inequities affect the well-being of our entire region. We see firsthand the power of oppression and division, and how it impacts opportunity and potential in many of our own neighborhoods and schools. Therefore, we fight. We fight for the basic needs, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. We fight for a better future and we fight against a system which continues to fail our most underserved and vulnerable neighbors.
Our work at United Way of the Bluegrass impacts the region’s most critical human needs. Our donors, partners, and supporters are from every community, sector, race, gender, and age. Bringing together a team of diverse game-changers and hand-raisers gives us the wisdom and strength to fight and drive systemic change.
The last few months have challenged and changed us as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic, though it is clear and apparent that Coronavirus is not the only disease we are fighting. I firmly believe that there is only one way to overcome division and to heal, and that is by coming together. We must listen and learn from one another, recognize our shared aspirations, and take action to build a better Bluegrass - together. United is the way forward.
While the future seems scary and uncertain right now, many of us hold a shared vision for the future. Even in chaos and sadness we find solidarity. We all want a future where everyone has opportunity, where we have the resources needed to support the health, education and financial well-being of every person who needs a hand up or a path forward. A future where every woman, man and child can thrive and live unafraid. The path forward will not be easy or comfortable, but there is hope if we are willing to stand together and do the hard work.
Hope is not lost, but I like so many of you am frustrated that we keep doing the same things and expecting different outcomes. But I also have faith in my community, Commonwealth, and nation. We are all in this together and we must recognize that our futures are deeply woven and inextricably interconnected. Now is the time to unite, to listen, and to let your voice be heard. Let’s check in on one another. Be a part of the change you want to see. Choose to be counted – complete your census and exercise your right to vote as these are critical steps on our path forward. Let’s not be afraid to speak out against injustice. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said in his letter from the Birmingham jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Your United Way is here. We are here to help, to listen, to lead, and to be a partner in the healing work that must be done to bring us together. We are here for the hard work and difficult conversations ahead of us. United we fight. United we win.
We must be intentional and now more than ever before, we must Live United.