Open Letter on Racial Injustice

June 1, 2020

There has been an ache in our hearts and tears in our eyes…and now, a proverbial pen in my hand. The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have exposed the stark reality of racial injustice and racism that has plagued our nation since its birth.

Now is not the time to be silent. Indifference and passivity are our greatest enemies. Waiting is a luxury of the privileged.

Our community needs leadership. Leadership that stands up for justice. Leadership that links arms with those who are oppressed and protects the vulnerable with policies and systems reform. Leadership that uses its privilege to give voice to the unheard. I believe we have leaders like this in our community that equally want justice and fairness. I invite these leaders to join us in this fight.

We need education, and it starts with a history lesson. Understanding and confronting our past will “unite us in our responsibility to do things not only for ourselves and for future generations, but also for those who were there and are no longer with us.” (Fred Smith Jr., 2020)

Training. Yes, we need cultural competency training. Recognition of the overlay and intersection of poverty, trauma, and racism will serve our community well. It will help us appreciate the burden of each and the avalanche of all when compounded.

So, where to begin??

Lament. Let us lament with groaning too deep for words. Our tears and heartache tell a story that can be read in any language.

Listen. One of the greatest strengths of any leader or community is to listen. Listen to learn. Listen to love. Listen to gain the perspective of someone that does not think, act, or look like you.

Lean in. It is easy to turn away from the injustice that we see. It is uncomfortable to unpack the history of systemic oppression. It is challenging to look at your own heart and mind. Do not give up. If we were to give up, it would mean that we did not act appropriately in the time of adversity. It would mean that we did not challenge the status quo.

Let us address these issues of racial injustice on three levels: individually, interpersonally, and institutionally. As individuals, I implore you to search your own heart and beliefs. Interpersonally, connect with others to pursue fairness, equity, and a sense of belonging for all. Institutionally, we are all a part of the systems that could use reform. Curiosity will help us to see the areas of our lives and these systems that can be improved.

We can do this, together.

Michael B. Tukeva
Pocono Mountains United Way
On behalf of the Board of Directors

To view/share a PDF of this letter, please click here: An Open Letter on Racial Injustice