Statement in Support of Racial Justice and Black Lives Matter
As a justice movement founded to eradicate racial and economic disparities in public education, Thrive Collective stands in solidarity with our Black students, artists, educators, coaches, mentors, neighbors, friends, families, partners, and allies in the fight against racial injustices in the criminal justice system and everywhere they persist.
We believe that Black Lives Matter. We humbly stand with all who assert their right to live free from systemic racism.
Even as the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic appears to be subsiding, the familiar virus of racial violence has flared up yet again. Both are highly infectious and can be unwittingly transmitted. Both steal life by suffocating breath. What might happen to our distinctly American forms of racism if we fought as intently for a cure as we now fight COVID-19? One has brutalized the globe for eight months. The other since Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
Though the movement for racial justice now spans the world, we especially grieve with our nation after more senseless bloodshed on our soil. We mourn with the families and loved ones of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbury. We honor them and fight in their memory and for those who died before and after them.
We demand that all leaders, civilian and law enforcement alike, discern a way forward that heals our broken systems, restores hope, and demonstrates humility and justice so that all people can fully participate in the promise of freedom.
We reject and resist the cyclical nature of violence that begets more violence. In these perilous times, we express profound sorrow for an American story that includes 500 years of legal, horrific, and dehumanizing violence against people of color: Native American conquest; the brutality of slavery; internment camps; Jim Crow segregation; colonizing and annexing independent nations; the War on Drugs; mass incarceration; entertainment bloodlust and so much more.
The shocking events captured now on video are not new. What’s new is the capacity of ordinary citizens to record them in real-time, and the collective trauma to the masses from watching these broadcast images, again and again.
Coupled with our lament and deep sadness is righteous indignation. While we understand that there is a time to mourn and a time to be silent, we are led by the conviction that there is also a time to speak, guided by the conviction that words without action are dead.
Enough was enough long ago. The time for hand wringing and platitudes has long since expired. We know what is good and right for our times: to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our neighbors, especially those whose lived experiences differ from our own.
To all those protesting non-violently, we see you. We hear you, and share your anger and pain. We are with you. We mourn and march and pray and advocate and act and stand in solidarity with you. Say everything that needs to be said. Expose all that needs to be exposed. Call out every injustice that needs to be named. Lead us so together we can build a just and enduring peace. We are the generation that can be the change we hope to see in this world. We can and must and will dismantle centuries of systemic injustice, racial violence, and careless inhumanity in our own country and beyond.
To all the opportunists and agitators attempting to hijack George Floyd’s murder to incite violence, we see you too. We won’t let you undermine the moment for our students and the generations that come after them, even as you inflict more pain and suffering today. When you torch our cities; steal and destroy what doesn’t belong to you; and attack police officers indiscriminately for the sins of a few, you distract from the fight for justice. It’s impossible to root out those who would abuse power while dodging Molotov cocktails, or focus on enacting transformational legislative and cultural change. Ms. Taylor, Misters Floyd and Arbury, and those who came before and after them deserve better.
To all people of good will protesting AND those policing today and every day, remember we are ultimately on the same side. We are positioned to bridge the divide and unite our City and nation in common cause. Continue to be about it today, as we call out injustice and create hope and opportunity in its stead.
Words and statements are not enough when it is within our ability to act. Thrive Collective, as a mission-driven, justice-oriented non-profit, carries the responsibility to lead and serve with conscience and conviction. We accept that responsibility, and invite you to do the same.
Turn Up the Value
In the aftermath of the senseless killings of Ahmaud Arbury, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, we have been reminded of the prescient words written, performed, and recorded by our 2018 Summer Arts Academy students at the Living Redemption Youth Opportunity Hub in Harlem. Please watch, listen, and share.