We watched in horror and outrage as George Floyd endured nearly nine minutes of torture before his life was snatched away from him. It is profoundly disturbing and shameful that it has taken so long for our collective consciousness to be awakened to the vile realities of racism and police brutality in our country, and to be spurred to action. The knee of America has been pressing down on the necks of black people for centuries, and we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in demanding that they be allowed to breathe.
Xavier Mission recognizes that each one of us has a story, and that every story deserves and needs to be heard. Creating lasting, meaningful, systemic change requires that we get to know each other. It’s much harder to kneel on someone’s neck, or call the police on a person just going about their life, when you actually know who they are. George Floyd’s story was abruptly ended, in many ways before it had begun. The world has borne witness to what happened to Mr. Floyd. Let us bear witness to who he was as a human being.
George Floyd was a big brother. A beloved friend. A father to a six-year-old daughter. He was a man who loved and needed his mother, right down to the very last seconds of his life. Mr. Floyd wasn’t perfect. He made mistakes. He struggled with addiction and spent time in prison. But he was given an opportunity to change, and was trying to make the most of it. After he was released from prison, he moved to Minneapolis to escape his tough surroundings and get a fresh start. He found an organization called Turning Point that helped him find a job. Mr. Floyd dreamt of opening a restaurant called ‘Convict Kitchen’ with his girlfriend. They planned to staff it with ex-prison inmates — to give formerly incarcerated people such as himself a second chance – and use food available at prison commissaries to make gourmet meals. George Floyd had hopes and dreams. He had people he loved, and people who loved him. His life was valuable, and had meaning. His life mattered.
When black Americans voice their concerns and point to how we as a society can do better in recognizing the value of black lives, we must listen. They have been calling us for generations to take intentional, concerted, and significant action against racism and police brutality. Xavier Mission recognizes our failure to fully answer that call in the past. The positive stories about the work we do to support people of color are not sufficient when we witness the full depth of the problem. Social justice, in its highest form, is not a noun, it is a verb. Today we make a commitment to being more responsive, more involved, and more active allies.
“No matter who we are, no matter where we’re from, no matter what we do — we matter…Once again and always, we fight for justice…Our lives have value, and the fight continues until every single human knows: Black Lives Matter.” -Black Lives Matter
Xavier Mission will stand in unity with our black neighbors in support of racial equity and against white supremacy, and serve our neighbors in ways that ensure racial equity and justice.
“If we ever hope to move past [racism], it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own.” -Michelle Obama
Xavier Mission will engage in self-reflection, check our biases, reexamine our ethical values, and explore our own role in perpetuating systemic racism and inequity.
“Racism in American is like dust in the air. It seems invisible – even if you’re choking on it – until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.” -Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Xavier Mission will take an active role in reconciliation and eradication of systemic racism and discrimination within our own programs and organizational policies and practices.
“The anger and frustration we feel at this moment must be channeled into working towards a better future for us and for future generations to come. For too long we have marched, we have protested, and we have mourned our lost ones as the world and our allies watched on. It’s time to stop watching and take action.” -NAACP
Xavier Mission will actively support, promote, and partner with organizations and individuals working to end systemic racism and injustice.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
We will be silent no longer.
-The Xavier Mission Staff and Board of Directors