June 18, 2020

In Solidarity With Black Communities

A message from our Executive Director and Board President:

Over the last few weeks, we have read and witnessed horrific acts of violence against unarmed Black men and women. And we are outraged.

During this time, Friends–Seattle has done a lot of listening and reflecting. Like you, our staff, mentors, and Black youth are in pain, frustrated, and want change. We cannot sit by idly after police took the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many other Black men and women. We know, as an organization that primarily serves Black youth and families, that we need to do more.

Together, we will take a stronger stand against police violence and the racism that Black people and communities of color confront every day. We can’t talk about generational poverty without talking about structural racism. While these challenges aren’t new for our youth and some staff, we know Friends–Seattle can do better at addressing these issues as an organization. We’re committing to better serve our youth, staff and community by examining our own internal practices and our role as a social justice organization. We’re starting by:

  • Observing and supporting the general strike organized by Black Lives Matter King County Friday, June 12th.
  • Assessing and addressing our own structures and practices, beginning by engaging a consultant to work with our board and staff to conduct a year-long process to elevate racial equity at Friends.
  • Creating a matching fund for all of our mentors and staff engaged in the fight, so that their donations to organizations of their choice, fighting to end police brutality and advance equity and racial justice, can be matched. Donate here (Please indicate matching mentors in the comment section).

At Friends, we provide paid, professional mentoring for talented young people from kindergarten through high school. Through this work, we witness the systemic oppression that Black students and students of color face, including underfunded schools, disproportional school discipline and criminalization by the police. We call for accountability to end police brutality and redistribute significant police funding to community-based resources that will invest in our children of color rather than criminalize them. While we provide mentorship and support to navigate these systems of injustices, it is the systems themselves that need to be dismantled to ensure that Black children and children of color are given a fair shot to succeed, including equitable education and freedom to feel safe in this country.

To make a change, everyone must play a role. It is not acceptable to do nothing. It is our responsibility to take action against these systems. We call upon those who support Friends-Seattle to join us as we work to dismantle the racist systems that impede our youth. We can do this by educating ourselves, showing up in support and taking action. We have provided links below with suggested ways to do so.

We owe it to our children to fight institutional racism and address the barriers that inhibit their freedom and potential—and sometimes their lives. They are the future recipients of the change we demand today.

Black Lives Matter, today and every day. We stand in solidarity with all of those in the fight and call upon everyone to find a way to rise to this historic occasion to create real, lasting change. The lives of our children depend on it.

EDUCATE: Start with ourselves

SUPPORT: Organizations doing the work

ACTION: Things you can do now

Steve Lewis, Executive Director

Linda Perlstein, Board President