Like you, it was with great anxiety that I waited for the verdict in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin. From the first that I saw the terrible video coverage of George Floyd’s last moments, I felt great sorrow and anguish, at what felt like one more terrible crime against black and brown people in a country that was formed to be a beacon of hope for a better life for everyone.

Yesterday, when I heard the verdict read, my first response was to feel relief. I was relieved for all my fellow black and brown Americans, to see that the justice system worked, though I know this verdict cannot bring back George Floyd, or end the suffering of his family and all those across this country who mourn his senseless loss.

I also felt great sadness yesterday, thinking about all the lives that have been lost in the time since the murder of George Floyd.

I do not remember a time in my life when the divisions in this country, regarding equity, and racism, injustice, and human dignity and decency toward one another, have been more stark.

At the same time, I lead an organization that is fervently committed to bringing us together. At the Y, I foster among our staff and our community the absolute truth that we are stronger together.

Only by recognizing the value of how we are different, and all the ways we are the same can we heal and truly become stronger. At the Y, we have four core values; just four words: caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. So much more than four words, these are our guiding principles. But these guiding principles can only work when everyone has access to them, and can benefit from them; when everyone is treated with the same level of caring respect and decency; everyone.

Every single day, the Y is engaged in intentionally and consistently making progress to become an anti-racist, multicultural organization that advances equity for all.  

We must work harder to reduce community disparities and address the systemic inequities that created them. We achieve this by modeling our core values and reminding all those we serve that despite our differences and the diversity of our perspectives, ideologies and beliefs — as a community and a nation — what unites us will always be stronger than what divides us.

Please join me in actively working to recognize and lift up those who are oppressed. Please join me in promoting peace and understanding by bringing together and celebrating people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, to help them find common ground that is consistent with our inclusive mission.

Together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.