An Open Letter to the Non-Profit Industry
[This article was originally published via LinkedIn]
In August of 2019, an esteemed colleague and non-profit leader asked me to speak to a group convened to address community violence, violence prevention, and divestment from American Negro communities. To address those needs, I wrote the piece you are about to read.
The clinician and systems thinking part of me tends to ask what function a behavior serves, what elements in the environment are driving actions, and what happened before that could explain how/why people show up the ways they do. The answers are not always pretty…but they are truer than the lies we tell ourselves to feel comfortable and less shameful. The truth can be a bitter pill. Yet, truth is better told than hidden. I feel that deep in my bones.
As with all things I write and speak, I leaned into root cause. Because of that way of seeing, I believe the year-old words in this piece can so readily apply to this present moment. You see … whether we are solving for community violence or social unrest, the origin is the same. Both arise from the same root of deprivation. They have the same cause. I need YOU to see it because they have the same efficient redress that YOU are going to have to champion…
Quite simply, we MUST undo what has been done.
We have to own our racist “ish.” And, we cannot waste another day. Because, every day somewhere in some way, our children are dying. They are killing each other … under color of law and without it.
The era of experimentation is done.
Every day we look at the pain and suffering spread across American cities that we love and call home. Every day there is more pain added to a mountain of hurt that simply should not exist. We are losing our children to a level of everyday violence that has to end. We can no longer chalk that violence up to “that zip code” or send empathy to “those poor people.” This violence is systemic. This violence is all of us.
We can talk about gun control because that is real. Our American culture holds gun ownership and gun use in high esteem. We are the land of cowboys and righteous…