Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & Metrowest Community:
As I write this, I find myself at an increased loss for words over the state of our world right now, especially the inequity people of color face. The pain, the feeling of loss and isolation, the seemingly insurmountable obstacles to equity and justice our society faces today all feel too much to bear. Not only are we dealing with the public health crisis of the COVID19 pandemic, but also the culmination of years’ worth of the epidemic of racism and social injustice. But it is incumbent on all of us to persevere, now more than ever. Our community, our volunteers, and most importantly, our children demand that we not only persist through these challenges, but actively work towards change at every possible turn.
Our mission is to DEFEND THE POTENTIAL of young people across our communities. Violence, institutionalized racism, and social injustice of any kind directly harms all youth and our collective communities.
Children and families served through our programs are pre-dominantly people of color. Our mission is to help all involved to become agents of positive change, and we cannot advance our mission without advocating for systemic change in the face of widespread injustice and racism.
Shamefully, many of the families of color in our programs have felt justifiably unsafe, for far too long. It is impossible to fathom how black and brown children are 250% more likely to die in encounters with corrupt law enforcement than white individuals; becoming agents of change means we must all do our part to rectify this injustice and bring about authentic understanding – and necessary change.
Our mentoring programs cultivate parents working hand-in-hand with dedicated mentors, as a means to help inspire our children to do well in school, build strong relationships, choose safe behaviors, and cultivate ambitious dreams for their futures—ALL things EVERY PERSON has a right to do.
Our mentoring programs, alongside our program partners – including public schools, local colleges, and local police departments – all are responsible for driving this change forward. Our collective voice, including the over 1,000 volunteer mentors who serve each year, needs to drive this forward.
As I reflect on just this month’s deaths, I cannot help but fear for the majority of the children enrolled in our programs and hundreds more on our waiting list. Too often, encounters between people of color and law enforcement have been tragic, resulting in our collective efforts to help everyone reach their fullest potential as FORFEITED.
We cannot afford to forfeit or give another inch in this challenge. To become true agents of change, we must prepare to do what is helpful and necessary to promote change.
To prepare for this challenge, we must first take responsibility and learn how our societal structures benefit from the suffering of others. We must prioritize speaking about racial inequities and injustices to our children, friends, and family — even when it is uncomfortable.
We must understand our responsibility to do the necessary work in becoming authentically culturally competent. Towards that end, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & Metrowest is committed to devising and implementing a fully funded plan for an agency-wide, comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training initiative. This training initiative will reach our entire organization – all staff, all board members, all volunteers. We will also work with our institutional partners in our Bigs in Blue programs to include 100% family engagement events with DEI training topics included in each event. We must affirm our interconnectedness, as we are uniquely positioned with a diverse group of 1,000+ volunteers to help all our communities bridge that gap in understanding and experience.
A fellow BBBS leader relayed to me, “If anyone is asking themselves where to begin, I can only suggest listening and learning. Like many other social change organizations, Big Brothers Big Sisters believes a critical thought process ALWAYS precedes actual behavior change. Certainly, our collective responsibility requires much more than learning to THINK DIFFERENTLY, but listening and learning are ALWAYS the critical FIRST STEPS. We cannot be effective in the fight until we are informed.”
Towards that end, here are just a few examples of resources that may help:
- Supporting Kids of Color in the Wake of Racialized Violence
- A guide to how you can support marginalized communities
- 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
- Anti-Racism Project
- Showing Up for Racial Justice
- Racial Equity Tools
I think everyone can acknowledge there is an incredible amount of work ahead, but on behalf of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & Metrowest, our Board of Directors, its staff, and its volunteer mentors, we pledge to listen to our families, to keep learning, and to do our part. We will continue our efforts to develop local cultural competency training for ALL our mentors, staff, and leadership volunteers this year, as noted above.
Should you wish to learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & Metrowest, how we embrace diversity, equity and inclusion in our practices, or ways YOU can play an important role in DEFENDING the POTENTIAL of the children we serve, please let me know. I may be reached at Jeffrey.Chin@bbbscm.org .
Chief Executive Officer