On Memorial Day, I shared a hope publicly that we could honor the fallen by ensuring we strive to be one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. That night, George Floyd’s senseless death provided yet another stark reminder that we, as a people, are not doing enough to promise the most basic of freedoms and equal access to justice to everyone. Especially people of color.
Since then, I’ve struggled to formulate what I could say that wouldn’t be received as insincere or opportunistic. I recognize the privileges I’ve been afforded in life as a white male, and I recognize my lived experiences leave me ill equipped to fully understand the experiences of my Black and Brown teammates, peers, and friends. I hear unfathomable stories from loved ones, but I’ve never known that same level of soul-crushing pain, despair, and injustice myself. I live in a safe space – a bubble – in which all I have to do is take care of my family. But, as your United Way CEO, I understand my purpose is greater.
Eleven years ago I came to Southeast Louisiana wearing rose-colored glasses. What a place to live – a world-renowned city with a rich culture and a spirit of hospitality and generosity second to none. But slowly, my glasses cleared, and even for all the good, the suffering came into focus.
One out of every two households struggles to make ends meet in our region. If you’re a person of color, it is even worse. That makes my heart ache. I try to do my part, but it’s not near enough. I have power, but feel powerless. How do I, one person, help the most resistant individuals realize we are all human beings with certain inalienable rights?
For me, today, a promise is the right place to start.
I promise, so long as I have the breath and ability to work toward a place where all people are respected as equals and have equitable access to a quality education, quality health care, and quality opportunity, I will do just that. Promises are meant to be fulfilled. Trust that I will do my part, as will United Way of Southeast Louisiana and all those that serve in support of our mission.
Expect more, but no less.
United, we will get through this together.