Meeting the Moment
By Michael McAfee, President and CEO
Although 2020 will be described in history books as a year of profound loss, our communities must not only contend with the loss of rights to our most basic needs, but also the monumental loss of our people. Sadly, the reality is that deep loss and collective grief aren’t new to us. The soundtrack of my life contains the familiar notes of the hymns my mama and grandmama, and their mamas and grandmamas sang to get through. Those hymns have echoed generations, paving the road from our grief to our collective liberation.
Despite the constraints of their reality, our ancestors held a vision for a new, dramatically different future. To honor their sacrifices we must have the same clarity and conviction as we build a nation where all can thrive. We will not dilute our vision of equity by making it conditional. We know the true power of unconditional faith ― a faith that is fueling our movement. Just like our ancestors, we must be skilled at holding multiple truths, often in tension, none bigger than the tension of holding our lived experience of oppression alongside an unwavering faith in a liberating future yet unseen.
We are in a critical moment of opportunity in our movement, racial equity has become the topic of discussion at tables across America. As we recognize these new opportunities, we acknowledge grassroots movement leaders for making this moment possible. They delivered this moment not only with their organizing and strategy, but with their bodies being placed in harm’s way. The voice that matters most is the voice of the unheard. Our work is not to critique that voice, but to join in transformative solidarity to accelerate the changes they are rightfully demanding.
As we move thru 2021, we’ve determined the truths that will guide our work, and we will pursue them with the power and resolve of those who made this moment possible. The three truths guiding the next phase of our journey to realize the promise of equity are: the government must become antiracist; corporate leaders must become real champions of racial equity; and movement leaders must be focused on structural reforms. To create an antiracist government, we will advance a Racial Equity Governing Agenda that pushes our government to create policies and practices to serve a multiracial democracy. To turn corporate leaders into real champions of racial equity, we will continue to evolve A CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity that provides a roadmap for corporations to use their power to move beyond drafting gratuitous statements to bending the legal and regulatory framework of our nation to advance racial equity. We will continue to partner with movement leaders focused on structural reforms, because while the pandemic has shown us the importance of rendering immediate aid to those most impacted, it has also made clear that we must fundamentally change the systems that make aid a necessity.
With our focus clear, we must ready ourselves with the care, grace, and commitment necessary to reimagine a new nation. There has never been a moment more ripe for radical transformation. The concepts that guide our work, once taboo, now occupy the headlines of all major newspapers and bestseller lists. If there was ever a time for us to move more boldly into the future, it is now. This moment is a gift from our ancestors, we will honor it by meeting it with the courage and determination they taught us, as we remake our institutions to serve the ‘all’ in the definition of equity. We can’t wait to partner with you to create a new future where all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.