Dear AMIGOS Family,
It has been an incredibly powerful time as communities across the world unite in protest against systemic racism and violence following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. I am inspired by all who are coming together to stand up and call for action. This is a moment for each of us to reflect on who we are, who we want to be, and the role we can play in creating a more just society.
Throughout this time, I have reflected on how I can support the Black Lives Matter movement within our organization and in my own life. First, I have much listening and learning to do. I have taken to heart the quote by Angela Davis that “it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” We must be active rather than passive in this pursuit. And this must happen in our personal lives and in the organizations where we work.
Several weeks ago, we shared our support of the Black Lives Matter movement and committed to take a stand against systemic racism and violence. We also promised to keep you updated on our progress. I write now to share the actions that are underway, knowing this is only the beginning.
As individuals and as a team at AMIGOS, we are actively reflecting on the steps we can take to both stand in solidarity and take action. We must proactively work to better prepare our students, staff, and stakeholders to understand, identify, and confront racism. We must work on our systems, culture, and processes to stand on our values and fulfill our organizational commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:
To realize the AMIGOS vision and mission, we believe in the power of every voice and the wisdom of diverse voices. AMIGOS embraces universal diversity, including race, nationality, ethnicity, socio-economic status, religion, age, gender and sexual orientation. AMIGOS seeks to include different life experiences, belief systems, abilities and opinions throughout our work and aspires to eliminate barriers to inclusion and participation.
We can do more and must do more.
Today, we look to our organization’s history, including failures and progress, to understand our background as we look critically in the mirror and map our next steps. We are fortunate to have a vast network and ample opportunities to impact both the lives of the young people in our programs as well as our AMIGOS community.
We are taking the following actions to reset our vision for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and hold ourselves accountable:
- Review of our organizational goals to ensure action on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
- Launch a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Work Group comprised of staff representatives from all departments. The DEI work group is responsible for creating goals, a multiyear work plan, and a system for evaluating our progress, in partnership with our staff and organizational stakeholders. This group has begun meeting regularly.
- Provide space and resources for learning, dialogue, and feedback from our staff at-large and make time for staff to reflect and engage in action.
- Recognize Juneteenth and provide time off for staff to reflect, learn, and act.
- Share resources on antiracism and implement a strategy to amplify Black voices.
- Build racial equity and justice modules into the curriculum of our new U.S.-based gap program, the Civic Action Gap Semester, with plans to update the curriculum for all programs.
These efforts are only the beginning. I am proud of the commitment of our team to this movement. I welcome any thoughts and ideas as we continue to move forward as an organization.
I will provide regular updates on new action steps as well as our progress toward greater diversity, equity, and inclusion at AMIGOS.
President & CEO
Amigos de las Américas