United Way of Central Ohio condemns the systemic racism, injustice and inequality that continue to exist in our community. The violent attacks and murders of African Americans and other persons of color by our country’s police force are alarming and must end. Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected and who fear for their safety, as well as the safety of their children and loved ones, each and every day.
I am fortunate to work with a diverse group of United Way leaders serving across the nation. Orv Kimbrough, former president and CEO of United Way of St. Louis, served the organization in 2014—when Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson. Kimbrough recently reflected on his experience in The People’s Protest.
“Michael Brown’s killing sparked a national movement with a thin ray of hope. Sadly, the momentum fizzled and the ray faded…As a black man, I was really stunned by the intentionality with which so many in my region and beyond chose not to see the humanity of Michael and what this act truly represented for black America.”
It is a hopeful start that the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and Columbus City Council have declared racism a public health crisis. It will be necessary for the county and the city to create actionable plans for reducing health inequities and promoting efforts to enhance the quality of life for minority residents. To ensure we go beyond declarations and that our momentum does not fizzle, we must ensure fidelity to this critical community goal and commitment to the lengthy process. United Way cares deeply about our community and stands ready to offer full support and leadership where needed.
Every day I am aware of my privilege because I was born white. White people have the immediate ability to use this privilege to ensure that change takes place at every level. It begins with being open to seeing the humanity of all people. We need to learn our country’s 400-year history of oppressing black people. We need to listen to their pain, rage, hopes and dreams. We must raise our hands to support a local plan to tackle racism and our community’s public health crisis.
Silence is not an option. We must commit to ensuring the 2020 people’s protest doesn’t fade away.
Lisa S. Courtice, Ph.D.
President & CEO
United Way of Central Ohio