Peace and Solidarity from the Switzer Foundation

Posted by Sarah Reed on Thursday, June 4 2020

We write in acknowledgment of the massive upheaval currently underway around us, among us, and within us. Centuries of environmental destruction and resource exploitation set the stage for a global disease pandemic that has subverted our economy and exposed profound inequities in our health care and social support systems. Centuries of white supremacy and racial injustice set the stage for widespread and multifaceted demonstrations against police brutality and citizen vigilantism, protests which are now themselves the target of violent repression. The intersection of these two forces have laid bare, in an unarguable way, the fractures and tears in our communities which we must all work to address and repair.

We write in empathy for the grief and loss that many in the Switzer Fellows community are experiencing. We write to express our love and support for fellows, colleagues, partners, friends, and loved ones who are demanding justice and accountability. We are grateful that the Switzer Foundation committed to advancing social equity and justice alongside improving environmental quality, but we still have a long way to go to ensure that commitment extends beyond the fellowship to transform all aspects of our programs, operations, and governance. We acknowledge the biases we carry and the limitations of our understanding as an all-white staff seeking to support an increasingly diverse network of fellows.

An opportunity to reflect on how we might choose to live differently, as we imagine an eventual recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, has become an imperative for action. Please use our communications platforms, as many of you have already done, to share resources and offer support for one another. We would like to remind you of the Race and Equity listserv (open to all fellows), the BIPOC Slack group (open only to fellows of color), and the general listserv (open to fellows, trustees, and close colleagues). We are working to develop codes of conduct for these spaces. In the meantime, we urge you to enter them with awareness and humility. For more information or to join those spaces, please email Laine.

Please consider our grant programs as opportunities to radically re-imagine solutions during uncertain times, and our networking events as forums for organizing collective action among Switzer Fellows.

Please join us in welcoming the new cohort of fellows, who will experience a fellowship year unlike any that came before, with whatever support you can offer.

Importantly, please take care of yourselves however you need to, and let us know how we can help. This is a continuing dialogue in an expanding moment in time, and we are eager to move forward humbly, authentically, and in partnership with all of you.

Peace and solidarity,
Sarah, Laine, Erin and Lauren

The poem "What Kind of Times Are These" by Adrienne Rich was included in the email version of this message.

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