Shortly after the death of George Floyd, YWCA Central Carolinas CEO, Kirsten Sikkelee, released a statement on May 29, 2020. You can view that here.
Dear YWCA Family,
Yesterday afternoon, George Floyd was remembered in Houston as multitudes of mourners paid their respects at a public viewing, socially distanced, with face coverings and gloves. Today will bring his funeral service before his body is taken to its final resting place in Pearland to be buried next to his mother. With his dying breath, George Floyd called out for his mother, a memory of comfort when he had no protection.
At YWCA Central Carolinas, we mourn his life in a long succession of lives brutally extinguished. We mourn the relentless assault on black and brown bodies in America. We recognize that our neighbors who are people of color are weary, hurt, angry, scared, exhausted, with abundant reason. I feel those feelings, so I know that is just the tip of their iceberg.
While we at YWCA never condone violence or looting, we know that protests over the decades – peaceful and not – have failed to move the needle to show that black lives matter in America. Some people are suddenly grappling with the realization that systemic racism is woven into the fabric of our nation and is hurting, sometimes killing, our fellow human beings. Some people do not see that racism is a groundwater issue for our country. Some people have been in this anti-racist work for years, from various angles. I found the full-page statement in The Charlotte Observer offered by Novant Health to be a powerful summation: in the midst of a pandemic, the epidemic of racism has shaken us all.
Through these days of pandemic and epidemic, we at YWCA continue to help women and families prepare for stable housing. We continue to support reading comprehension with our youngsters. We prepare for the return of our fitness members with significant investments of supplies, labor and new protocols. We plan our Stand Against Racism events for later this month and hope that you will join us. We host community meetings to move forward with rezoning our Park Road property in preparation for our future affordable housing. We do most of this work virtually. At the same time, the heaviness of what we face as a country is real, absolute and physical. It is not virtual.
In the words of the writer and activist James Baldwin, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity.
For ALL people.
Peace be with you. Peace be with all of us.
Kirsten D. Sikkelee
Chief Executive Officer