June 1, 2020
As we surveyed the damage of the weekend’s unrest in our neighborhoods, we shared a deep sense of sadness for business owners, community residents, and others who have invested so much to ensure access to vibrant commercial corridors to meet the needs of residents. And though it will take time and money, we believe the damage done to businesses can and will be repaired somewhat easily.
What will be much more difficult to repair is the underlying cause of the unrest. The centuries old feelings of oppression, disempowerment, and marginalization of black and brown people caused by both explicit and systemic racism that is deeply embedded in our history and our culture. This system must be dismantled.
People’s Emergency Center (PEC) and Youth Service, Inc. (YSI), serve families and youth experiencing homelessness and communities of color who are disproportionately affected by poverty, health disparities, and other challenges which are often exacerbated by ineffective policies and systems which are meant to help them. While there is often focus placed on the challenges faced by communities of color, we see the strength, tenacity, and resilience. We certainly don’t profess to have all of the answers, but we are committed to doing more— to create a more equitable community for all, and to being better allies.
We invite you to join us in the fight against hate, racism, and implicit bias through advocacy and responding against overt and covert racism you see and hear every day. We understand these conversations can be difficult, and uncomfortable – but it is crucial that you have them anyway. Below are links to resources which can help. Change starts with us.
We will be convening a joint committee of youth development experts from both PEC and YSI, to produce a toolkit of resources for parents. The toolkit will include resources for talking to your kids about systemic racism, and for helping children cope with traumatic events they have experienced or witnessed over the past few days.
Today, we are sad. We are angry. We are fearful. But we cannot let anger and violence overpower the importance of our collective message: Black Lives Matter. We must remain resolute in our message and channel our frustration and anger into productive discourse for change.
To the communities of color we serve: We are here. We see you. We hear you. We support you. We honor your resilience. We commit to raising our voices in support of you and channeling our efforts to ensure a more just and equitable future for all.
Kathy Desmond Gwen Bailey
President, PEC Executive Director, YSI
About PEC and YSI
Affiliated in January 2020, PEC and YSI work on several fronts to provide a holistic response to society’s ills. We provide food, housing, and resources. We counsel to help heal the heart. We inspire children’s curiosity through education and provide supports to opportunity youth. We promote job readiness through preparation and exposure. Our services are infused with a trauma-informed approach to soothe the spirit and promote healing. We encourage a unique community identity through creative placemaking in our neighborhoods. And we amplify the voices of the people we serve to policymakers so that their stories, their words, their voices may be heard.