Following the death of George Floyd a little more than a year ago, I reflected on his senseless murder. I also acknowledged the privileges I have been afforded. Not as an admonition of guilt or to suggest I haven’t worked hard, but simply a recognition that access and opportunity are not afforded to all people equitably.
If you read my message, I hope you shared my desire to work toward a place where all people are respected as equals and have equal opportunity to thrive. In the end, don’t we all believe that every person, regardless of race, deserves access to a good education, quality health care, and economic opportunity necessary to thrive?
The latest ALICE® Report tells us that if all Louisiana households earned enough to meet a basic survival budget, we would add $54.3 Billion in GDP to our state’s economy, realizing a vision of equitable communities with health, education, and financial stability for all. Now tell me you don’t want vibrant, stronger, more equitable communities with a little more money in your pocket, and we’ll have to agree to disagree.
We are at a critical juncture in our country’s evolution. Data clearly shows some households are doing far better than others. But I caution us not to waste time looking for someone to blame. Instead, I implore us to understand why. Why don’t half of our state’s households earn enough money to afford basic needs? Furthermore, why are the majority of those households are Black and brown? Untangle that ball of yarn and all that comes with it, and at its core, you will find various broken systems and injustices creating inequities for people of color.
If you took the time to understand the why and learn about the ways discrimination has shaped present-day realities, I’d bet you’d be willing to join United Way and me in creating a more equitable Southeast Louisiana where systems and structures favor all races equally.
Floyd’s death sparked action in our country, both immeasurably good and unimaginably evil. Let’s all agree to keep the spark for positive change alive. Our fight for more equitable communities needs more fuel than ever.
Let’s focus on the good. Let’s focus on solutions. Let’s focus on action.
President and CEO
United Way of Southeast Louisiana