Listen.

A single word that can be a command, a whispered lead-in to a secret, or a bit of sound counsel.

Today for the Community Foundation, it is all three – as well as a wake-up call.

We have all long-known that in America race has been the great divider and the arbiter of wealth, property, success, health, and opportunity. And now we are brutally reminded that being Black can also be – at the hands of the police or vigilantes – a death sentence.

So we are going to listen. We are going to listen to the voices of those whom have lived this experience, of those whom are working every day to address it, and for those of us who are white, we will also need to listen to ourselves as we consider our complicity of silence in the perpetuation of racism in all of its forms.

As a community foundation we have the good fortune of generous donors, talented staff, a thoughtful board, and a reputation for elevating philanthropy on behalf of our region. But we need to do better. We need to stop and listen to our community and listen to our better selves. While George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, Christian Cooper was threatened in New York City, Ahmaud Arbery was slain in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in Kentucky, being Black is still very much an underlying factor that is used to keep too many of our own residents down and has denied them the full spectrum of possibility that life should offer.

Our scholarship work matters, our work in the arts matter, our work to counter the impacts of this pandemic matter, and our efforts to elevate our community matter – but we must be more intentional in how this work addresses the stark and violent inequality rampant in our country.

Starting now, the Community Foundation will do better. We will listen. We will think. We will try things. We will learn. We will name it and we will talk about it. And we listen some more.

We invite you on this journey because we all have something to learn.