The brutal and senseless murder of George Floyd by a police officer enraged and horrified me – yet it was also all too familiar for a country who mourns the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Amadou Diallo, and so many other Black Americans killed by police.
I know that, for someone like me in a place of privilege and security, it can be hard or impossible to really understand what Black people in America are going through. I also recognize that I am taking up space in a moment when we should all be listening to Black voices. I want our grantee partners, peer funders, and the communities we serve to hear about our commitment to learning more, and to thoughtfully contributing to helping end racism in this country.
Police violence against Black people is only one way racism manifests itself in this country. Black people are dying at about three times the rate of White people from COVID-19 due to a range of causes, from access to health care to socioeconomic factors like employment status. Black people also make up one of the many groups who bear the disproportionate negative impacts of our climate crisis and the rollback of environmental laws and regulations. Racism also obstructs equitable access to reproductive health care and rights, quality early educational experiences, and many other examples. Change will come as space is made for Black voices, and as everyone better understands the reality of being Black in the United States, stands up for change, and uses the momentum we see today to create a more just society.
The Packard Foundation condemns racism and believes Black lives matter. However, saying that is one thing and acting to ensure we live it every day is another. This is why I have committed to – and I have asked staff and fellow Board members to commit to – examining how our organizational and grantmaking structures, processes, and practices contribute to inequitable racial outcomes, and how we can help to end racism. The path to change is to learn ourselves, actively listen to our staff, partners, and grantees, address the root causes of the problems in our society and communities, and take the necessary actions toward racial justice. This will certainly be an ongoing process of listening, learning, acting, and listening again, and will take time, honesty, and resolve to see through.
The Packard Foundation stands in solidarity with our grantees and partners who are fighting every day to end injustices, and we commit to learning and doing more to join their efforts. We will share with you more about our journey and steps forward in the weeks and months to come.