YNPN Twin Cities mourns the death of Philando Castile and stands in solidarity with Diamond Reynolds, their family, friends and our community. We mourn Alton Sterling. We mourn Delrawn Small. We mourn Patrick Zamarripa, Brent Thompson, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith and Michael Krol - five Dallas police officers. We mourn for those whose lives were cut short because of racism. Our inability to name everyone impacted by the magnitude of hate is horrifying.
The events of the past few weeks have been dark and traumatizing for many in our communities and specifically people of color. We’re afraid. We’re afraid for our friends, for our families, and for our own lives. We’re heartbroken, afraid, angry, and outraged. People have felt a wide spectrum of emotions, demanding justice and wanting to do better for our community. We encourage you to take care of yourself, whatever that looks like. This includes self-care for people of color experiencing psychological trauma.
YNPN Twin Cities is committed to valuing inclusion, creating access, and honoring diversity. Our vision is a world where young nonprofit professionals connect through purpose, challenge to change, and lead together. Our values center on respect and inclusiveness, collaboration, and responding to the evolving needs of our community. As a community-first, community-led organization, we vow to actively support and promote leaders who are passionate about dismantling systemic racism.
We stand with communities affected by racism. We stand with communities affected by homophobia, sexism, transphobia, misogyny, hate, intolerance, and divisiveness. We stand strong with the legion gathered in solidarity with the families and friends of Philando. We unequivocally state that Black Lives Matter.
Our moral outrage and demands for accountability must extend to every victim of violence - period. The deaths of Philando, Alton, Delrawn, and the Dallas police officers disgust and offend us precisely because those killed did nothing wrong. And yet we must stop rationalizing why other brown and black people are responsible for their own deaths at the hands of police officers. We must address the urgent and serious reforms that need to be made in how communities of color are policed and we must find a way to work with police departments in that process.
We can only hope we’ve reached a collective tipping point. That enough black men and women have died to demonstrate that our culture is infused with toxic, structural racism. That enough blood has been shed when machines of war police our streets and are in our homes.
As we said previously, nonprofits are not immune from this culture of oppression. Nonprofit organizations are embedded in and sometimes responsible for perpetuating racist structures, implicit bias, and ignorance. As YNPN, we believe in the collective strength of emerging young nonprofit professionals to help contribute to the change that is so sorely needed.
To engage in the work of nonprofits, of justice and fairness and equity, is to believe we can make things different and better. As nonprofit employees, we go to work each day determined to help someone - just one person, it seems sometimes. Optimism and belief in a more equitable and just world are the building blocks of our sector.
Even though the challenges are daunting and deeply rooted in our society, YNPN Twin Cities believes that our strength as young nonprofit professionals lies in leading our sector and driving it toward equity. We believe our members and volunteers have tremendous potential to address this issue head-on in our respective capacities. We commit to trying to collectively process and identify individual and community avenues of becoming agents of systemic change.
We encourage you to educate yourself in the stories of those killed, listen to the experiences of those affected by police violence, and become familiar with the data around policing and race, especially if you are white. Guante, a Twin Cities artist and activist, has compiled a list of resources and articles focused on answering the question, “But what can I do?” We also encourage you to explore this Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism - from Ferguson to Charleston. We also suggest advocating for the policy recommendations made by Campaign Zero, which are ten concrete policy changes to address police violence.
YNPN Twin Cities commits to creating space at a future event for our members and community to gather and discuss, process, and share how we’re working to dismantle systemic racism. We’ve also decided to change the name of a yearly event, Scattershot Cafe, to use a name without violent connotations. Changing a culture is hard and even small, symbolic actions can contribute to a sea change.
We consider this an ongoing community conversation and we want to engage in dialogue with you, wherever you are and whatever you may be feeling. The YNPN Twin Cities Board wants to invite anyone interested in continuing the conversation to email us at [email protected] and we’ll try to connect you to specific resources, meet for coffee to talk about how to promote racial equity in your workplace or listen and share experiences about what it’s like to be the only person of color in your white office.
We recognize that this work cannot be done alone. It must be done together, in community, with everyone playing a full and active role in working towards equity. We consider it an honor to join you in this essential work.
2016 YNPN Twin Cities Board of Directors