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An open letter of support to the Stronger U Community

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Tanner Baze

Content Manager

​It’s a little unnerving to think that we’re near the halfway point in 2020. It feels like this year started a decade ago. We’re experiencing a global pandemic that brought our lives to a halt. That global pandemic has led to unemployment rates that haven’t been seen since the Great Depression. And now many of the cities in our country are in the midst of citizen-led uprisings as people of all races and walks of life protest the systemic racism and disproportionate police brutality brought upon black individuals.

We’re not even six months into this year and the news cycle of 2020 has been like a movie full of fear, pain, and sadness — played on a continuous loop. It’s like a rollercoaster ride that many of us want to get off of. But getting off that ride isn’t an option. Even if it was, we would say that it’s the wrong move to make. We are here. We are all in the middle of this together. And because we are all in the middle of this together, it is incumbent upon us to work through this with one another. Even if that work isn’t easy. Because while this might feel new to some of us, it’s not new to the black community.

If the past week has shown us anything, it’s shown us that there is still much work to be done when it comes to racial justice in our country. We live in an unjust world where black people have vastly different lived experiences because of the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, their beliefs, and more. This has been a reality for too many people for far too long.

We recognize that we don’t have the answers for how to solve this or eliminate the pain and suffering that so many face. But we do know that there is a problem. That it is our job to listen to those who do suffer from systemic racism, and all work to educate ourselves.

We want you to know that we see you. All of you. We see how tired and hurt so many members of our community, and the country-at-large, are. We see the stress and exhaustion that has compounded over the course of this tumultuous year. We see the pain and hurt that so many in our community are feeling on a daily basis. Similarly, we recognize that for members of the black community and people-of-color, these feelings of the reality of racism, lack of safety, and all the emotions that come with that are nothing new. We recognize and acknowledge that our nation has a long road ahead. We also recognize that StrongerU has a part in contributing to the safety and inclusion of all our community members. There is healing to be done. That healing will not come easily. It never does.

As we listen to the black community, we are hearing that healing is a daily practice that will require something of each and every one of us. Especially those of us who have benefited because of the color of our skin. It will require us to look in the mirror and acknowledge uncomfortable truths. Just the same, healing requires reaching out to black individuals and other people-of-color to learn more about their own experiences. Healing requires listening, caring, and a willingness to address the blind spots that we might have in our own lives. Nothing about that is fun or easy. But nothing worth doing ever is.

We don’t pretend to have all the answers as to how we as a community can move forward, together. But we do know that each of us has an individual responsibility in this matter. That the healing practice starts with us, as individuals. But starting at the individual level isn’t enough — it’s only the beginning. We, as a community, have a responsibility. A responsibility to learn how we can better hear and recognize oppressed individuals, as well as a responsibility to ensure that this community remains welcoming and inclusive.

As we work to move forward together, I hope that we can all work to hear and understand those who don’t have the same experiences as we do. I hope that we can seek out marginalized individuals to hear their stories, offer our support, and take the actions they ask of us. And I hope that we can all recognize that this will be a process that never truly ends. If the news cycle focuses on something different in three weeks that doesn’t mean we should leave these efforts to learn, grow, and heal together behind. It means we should double down on them.

In the end, we will all be stronger together.

#strongerus

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