Reflections on the need for change from SOME President Ralph Boyd
To the SOME Community:
Like you, I continue to watch with a mix of heartache, frustration, and frankly, anger, as deeply troubling events continue to unfold before us: the spread of a vicious und unrelenting virus, a virus that has no regard for gender, race, age, or class, but that has undoubtedly disparately ravaged vulnerable communities and people of color; flagrant, baseless and bigoted accusations against a peaceful, birdwatching Black man in New York City’s Central Park; and finally the grotesque murder of George Floyd in front of dozens of his fellow citizens. Unfortunately, race is a prominent element in each of these.
As a faith inspired organization, SOME was founded and built upon the premise of dignity and respect for all people. We all are worthy of it, and responsible for it. Appreciation for our shared humanity and sense of community has been a central feature of our mission for nearly 50 years now. This is not simply a rhetorical point, but a reminder of the call to action that SOME represents.
The two most recent events remind us, harshly, that even (or perhaps especially) in the midst of a global pandemic, malevolent racism persists and that long-standing injustices perpetrated against Black and Brown people unfortunately are not relegated to our past, but are still too much a part of our present.
In emotionally charged times like these, people often wonder how we can heal, and what we can do that is constructive and real, and will make things better and more equitable, more fair, and more just. At SOME, we know some of the answers. We can, and we must lend our voices to the chorus of demands for justice, opportunity, and equity, condemning injustice and unfairness wherever we see it and regardless of who perpetrates it. We also must actively listen and learn from each other and, most importantly, from the voices of people who usually go unheard and for whom opportunity too often is at best only vaguely accessible. We are not free to leave anyone out of this dialogue. We know there is strength in diversity in all its dimensions – identity, experience, and thought. Inclusion should be a hallmark of our dialogue and actions.
Finally, as a community, we at SOME also must exercise our privilege, a privilege to serve that our many stakeholders underwrite by investing their time, treasure, talent, and abiding belief in us and our mission. People trust us to use our resources, financial and human, to care for, empower and elevate our most vulnerable neighbors. That’s the privilege we get to exercise every day – the privilege of transforming people and families from a state of insufficiency, to self-sufficiency and even prosperity -- material, emotional and spiritual.
I conclude by stating what I hope is obvious: that SOME--our employees, residents, clients, patients and partners--stand arm-in-arm with the Black community and our allies in the fight against racism, injustice, and unfairness.
With blessings, appreciation, and respect,
President + CEO