BCF operates from the knowledge that profound disparities in opportunity exist between people of color and their white counterparts; and we acknowledge the historic and ongoing role that structural racism plays in creating and perpetuating those disparities.
We have spent the past week, as many of you have, transfixed by the Black lives matter protests that have spread from Minneapolis and Louisville, to Baltimore, to cities around the world. As our staff has watched, marched, donated, and spoken out personally, we have purposely stayed quiet as an organization – making space for the voices of community partners and residents who are deeply, directly impacted by police brutality and inequality to rise up.
We have also spent this time reflecting on our long-standing commitment to race, equity and inclusion, and how we can further contribute to our vision to make the Baltimore region safer and more equitable for all.
First, we must say, that the murder of George Floyd by police two weeks ago was horrific, unjust, and inexcusable. Sadly, we know too well that it was not unprecedented. The list of Black people killed in the custody of law enforcement since the founding of our country – much less since the advent of cell phone video technology – is long. In the past few years alone, the wrongful deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Atatiana Jefferson, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling, Breonna Taylor, Baltimore’s own Freddie Gray and so many others have rightfully led to public outcries and widespread protests.
These unjust deaths weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of BCF staff and trustees. As an organization, we operate from the knowledge that profound disparities in opportunity exist between people of color and their white counterparts; and we acknowledge the historic and ongoing role that structural racism plays in creating and perpetuating those disparities.
The Baltimore Community Foundation sees the effects of racist systems every single day, as we work with struggling families, underserved communities and disinvested schools across the Baltimore region. From our unique vantage point at the intersection of communities, public and private entities and concerned donors, we are committed to eliminating racial disparities, identifying and combatting structural racism and fostering more equity and inclusion internally as well as through our advocacy, grantmaking, impact investing and special initiatives.
There is a natural inclination, as we see images of people across the world coming together, to think that we must put forth a new strategy and do more, better, faster. But this work is not easy. Our staff wrestles with race equity issues deeply, daily. We are constantly seeking opportunities to further advance and accelerate this work with substantive, strategic, and impactful investments. We will continue to do so – with fierce urgency.
Beyond that, we make the following pledges:
- We pledge to listen to communities about what is needed.
- We pledge to seize every opportunity to make grants and impact investments that advance racial equity.
- We pledge to keep our donors, community partners and other stakeholders informed about the wide range of strategies we are exploring and putting into action, and how you can be involved with your own giving.
- We pledge to continue fighting for public investments that address inequality, including most notably the Blueprint for Maryland’s future, which would address disparities in school funding, educational outcomes and opportunities for low-income students and students of color. Data about those disparities can be found in the Inequities in Inequities in Opportunity and Achievement in Maryland Report commissioned by BCF from The Education Trust. The Blueprint has been vetoed by Governor Hogan and we invite you to urge legislators to override that veto.
- Finally, we pledge to stand with individuals and communities who are subject to unequal treatment by police; to say the names of victims and to proclaim forcefully that Black lives and futures matter.
We look forward to sharing more information in the coming weeks. As always, our staff is available to answer questions and provide guidance on your own giving.
Until then, we hope that you and your loved ones will stay healthy and safe.
The Staff of the Baltimore Community Foundation