In the News, Inequality

A letter to my colleagues about Charlottesville

Dear Share Our Strength and Community Wealth Partners colleagues:

When I went to Charlottesville for Share Our Strength at the end of April, having lunch outdoors on the pedestrian mall dotted with bookstores, restaurants and shops, I couldn’t help but think how civilized and gentle a community it was. It will be again someday soon but in the near term our memory of it will be marred by the ugliness we witnessed Saturday.

Our work at Share Our Strength focuses on ensuring that kids grow up healthy, strong and ready and able to contribute to society.  Implicit in that is that the society they will be joining is worth getting them ready for in the first place. When racism, bigotry, hate and discrimination encroach on that society, the focus of our efforts must expand to address it. Otherwise, really, what’s the point?

It doesn’t erode our commitment to nonpartisanship and bipartisanship to assert that the President’s failure to condemn racism for what it is, is a deeply disappointing affront to every American who loves our country and the values it represents. Thankfully many Republican and Democratic leaders were united yesterday in their explicit denunciation of the white supremacists who converged on Charlottesville and who in no way represent the good people who live there.

In circumstances like these, the question is always “what can I do?” My friend Jonathan Greenblatt, who led the Social Innovation Fund in the Obama White House and is now CEO of the Anti-Defamation League has made a number of suggestions over the past 24 hours about what government officials should do, but has also written: “We should not wait for government: businesses and nonprofits, CEO’s, clergy and citizens.  It’s up to all of us to take a stand against hate. You can tweet, march, donate, mobilize, vote. Action can take many forms,. It isn’t bounded by politics. Only limit is your creativity. Ultimately this is not about political resistance. It’s about moral renewal and recommitting to the American idea.” You can follow him at @JGreenblattADL

My only advice for now: don’t be silent.

Billy

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