June 3, 2020
Dear SquashWise Community,
We are outraged, saddened, and distressed by the continuing violence toward Black people and the entrenched historic systems that perpetuate ongoing acts of physical, mental, and emotional oppression toward marginalized communities. And we recognize the emotional impact of these personal and societal traumas on our students, the majority of whom are people of color. This must stop.
The policies and practices that actively and passively harm Black and Brown people are not new. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor. Their recent deaths are tragedies. Lives of promise lost. We remember Freddie Gray and our own city’s shared trauma from his death. We remember the subsequent uprising to confront the forces of racism and racial violence. The tragedy of lost lives is compounded by acts of everyday racism that continue to perpetuate injustice, inequality, oppression, and lack of opportunity. This must stop.
SquashWise is looking deeply inside our organization with an explicit focus on anti-racism and racial equity. As a program working with students of color in a city with deep historic injustices that extend into the present day, we will not remain silent. All of our efforts to provide opportunity to our students can be undone in an instant if we cannot reshape our society. They must be safe to walk out the door, go for a run, even sleep in their own homes without fear of violence and death. In our world today, people of color bear more than the fear of racial violence, which is heavy enough on its own. They also face discrimination in healthcare, education, employment practices, and housing – our very own city of Baltimore is the birthplace of explicitly discriminatory housing policies (‘redlining’), with enduring effects. This must stop.
As a white woman leading an organization centered around a historically white sport, I am personally seeking to listen, grow, and act. SquashWise as an institution commits to the same: to reviewing its mission and values, programming, and fundraising practices to make sure our organization advances the core concepts of racial equity. We know that these conversations will be uncomfortable for some, new for others, and might be exhausting for people of color – including our students and their families – who have been living in this reality for generations. Just yesterday, we listened to what our students needed at our regularly scheduled afternoon workout. They expressed fear, frustration, and anger over current events, but the majority wanted the comfort of our routine to ground their day. So we exercised, we stretched, and we bonded.
Our shared love of squash, a predominantly white sport in America, brings together players across a historically divided Baltimore in ways that might not have happened before. This is a tremendous opportunity. Yet we must examine the enduring effects of a history of exclusion that produces vastly different life experiences in our city. Without this examination, our program stands on the sidelines of this important conversation. Today, our nation’s heartbreak provides yet another chance to highlight the historical injustices of our city and country. Let’s commit to building a better Baltimore together.
We ask you to join us in this commitment.
If you are interested in following and/or getting involved in our work to increase critical consciousness, racial equity, and anti-racist practices at SquashWise, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
. We are humbly at the beginning of a life-long journey, but we have some interesting opportunities in development, and we welcome your input.
We must be the change.
Executive Director & Co-Founder