Westchester Community Foundation's Statement on Racial Justice

The conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd is a rare moment of police accountability in the history of our nation. But for the actions of Darnella Frazier, the teen who had the wherewithal to record what happened on that street, the world would not have witnessed the shocking brutality of Mr. Floyd's death. The testimony by members of law enforcement who confirmed that Chauvin's manner of restraint was not taught or practiced was a powerful statement on what is not acceptable in modern-day policing.

While much of the nation exhales with relief, we must not forget that there is still much work to be done. Communities across the country are more divided than ever as our society struggles to agree on the basics—that we are all created equally and should, therefore, be treated equally.  Whether you are exhaling with relief, or struggling to breathe, the imperative remains to address the root causes of racism in our society.

 

What do we do now? First, we must acknowledge that we are all witnesses to injustice. We may witness with our own eyes as Darnella Frazier did. We may witness acts of bias —unconscious or direct—based on skin color. And we may witness disparities in access to opportunity, healthcare, and quality of life that disproportionately affect the Black community.

 

Witnessing should not be a passive act. What is seen cannot be unseen. As witnesses to injustice and disparities we must ask ourselves whether we are doing all that we can to meet this moment.

At the Westchester Community Foundation, we are proud of our work to improve the quality of life for all. This includes working to make visible the disparities in our community and supporting impactful work to reduce those disparities. We do not do this alone, but in partnership with our donors, nonprofits, and fellow funders.

 

We are a place where generosity grows. The Foundation has long honored and celebrated our community traditions of philanthropy by people of all races and backgrounds. The events of 2020 have encouraged us to do more.

 

The Foundation has begun an internal process so that we can more effectively embed racial equity in our work. This includes racial equity training for board and staff, and a review of our grantmaking processes, governance, communications, donor engagement, and community leadership. Most important, we are having difficult and honest conversations among board, staff, donors, and the broader community about our backgrounds and experiences.

 

We believe that only when our community embraces such conversations can we create a shared vision of a fair and inclusive society. There is much work to do, and we invite you to join us.

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