Black Lives Matter

Dear buildOn Family,

Like you, i have been overwhelmed by the madness and horror of George Floyd’s death and the history of systemic racism, colonialism, white supremacy, police brutality, and violence that has existed for centuries. As founder and CEO of buildOn, i am moved to go on the record and share how some of my experiences shape how i feel about this moment. The first time i had the courage to participate in civil disobedience was in Johannesburg in protest of the apartheid state in South Africa back in 1992. Later i was moved to join the Million Man March in Harlem, then a “No More Bullets” demonstration organized by our students in the South Bronx, and more recently, the Black Lives Matter protests in New York City. One of the things i learned from each of these experiences is that systemic racism and injustice are both the root causes and outcomes of poverty and extreme poverty. In other words, we can not break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations while ignoring these issues. We need to continue to take action on both. Over the last 48 hours, members of our team have worked collectively and thoughtfully to write our statement of solidarity and action. i want to thank the members of our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council for their leadership and their work in crafting this statement. Here is the statement. We hope you will join us in action.

In Solidarity,

Black Lives Matter. Breaking the cycle of poverty cannot happen without also dismantling the systemic oppression and racism that Black people face in the United States and across the globe. We stand with our students, Alumni, community members, staff, community partners, and supporters who identify with this lived experience.

We mourn the loss of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, McKinsley LaKeith Lincoln, Nina Pop, Sean Reed, and Tony McDade. We acknowledge there are countless others who have lost their life due to an unjust system, and this has been happening for far too long.

We also know that we must do more. We believe that through service-learning and education, we can more deeply address the history of racism and colonialism within our U.S. and Global communities on our journey to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations.

We stand in solidarity to continue the fight for justice through equity and inclusion. We are responsible for each other. And we will never give up.