Many of us spent last week giving good riddance to 2020, while expressing hope and optimism for 2021 and the promise that it held for our lives and our communities to be better. But the storming of the United States Capitol on January 6th, 2021 quickly turned that optimism into a sense of dread, and a sinking feeling that 2021 would not be different after all.
In no uncertain terms, all of us at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley condemn the actions of those who planned, encouraged, participated in, and continue to defend the attempted coup in Washington D.C., as well as those who believe these terroristic actions were acceptable or justified in any way – they were not. As thousands of armed, angry rioters walked in and out of the U.S. Capitol, in plain sight with relative ease, facing zero accountability for their actions, all of America had a front-row seat to the prominence and presence white supremacy and white privilege continue to hold in our country.
We are angry, sad, unsettled, and afraid. As the United Way, we must work, with action and intention, to lift the voices of the most vulnerable in our communities and ensure all voices are heard. We believe we are a catalyst to create greater opportunity for those who have been oppressed by systemic racism, white supremacy and unequal power structures and help create a society where everyone thrives. And make no mistake, these events have given even greater meaning and importance to our commitment to make 2021 different, and better, for the people and communities we serve.
We are hearing a lot this week about holding the leaders who have failed us accountable – we couldn’t agree more, but we also believe that accountability doesn’t begin and end with our leaders. We must raise the expectations we place on ourselves by holding ourselves accountable as we support our communities’ work to recover and rebuild from the pandemic and the toll it has taken on our region and our neighbors. We will not be afraid to stand up for the devastating impact Covid-19 has ravaged on immigrants who have no safety net from the government and who fear for their livelihood if they come forward for help. We will not be afraid to stand with the Black, Indigenous, Asian, Hispanic, and Latino communities – who make up our colleagues, corporate and community leaders, and our youth and families – as we lift their voices and co-create solutions that will bring about meaningful change and upward mobility.
We’re ready for you, 2021. We’re ready for a year that prioritizes honesty, transparency, respect for one another, and inclusion. We hope that now, and throughout the year, you will join us as we advocate for our most marginalized neighbors, and that you will take action alongside us to ensure that our region is stronger and more resilient than ever before. And we are resolved that with this collective focus, things will be better, and the future will be brighter, for everyone.