A Letter from Chris Jackson, President & CEO, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont
This is an almost indescribable time in our history. There are moments in time when there are just no words to describe the pain, loss, hurt and injustice that we are experiencing nationally and locally. A global pandemic is causing so may lives and livelihoods to be lost, and the tragic and inexcusable death of Mr. George Floyd is elevating once again the systemic issues of race, equity, and justice in our country.
There is so much tragedy around us that it can be overwhelming and hard to know what to do. I understand this feeling and personally fight against it every day. Inaction is part of the problem, so I choose to focus on educating when I see ignorance, calling out injustice and inequity when I see it, and using the areas that I can influence to create positive change.
There is no absolute certainty in life, but there is commitment. We can each commit to being better and doing better. The shared purpose of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont to help people see possibilities, seize opportunities, and prosper is about commitment. A commitment to partner with individuals and families who are working hard to achieve their goals and to prosper. A commitment to partner with them in a way that promotes dignity and builds on the inherent strengths everyone possesses. A commitment to serve others with excellence regardless of their background, circumstance, or color of their skin. This is our Work and has been for over 50 years.
But, this work is getting harder. And, we must shine a light on the reasons why. We must shine a light on the policies, implicit bias and silent voices that continue to stifle opportunity and access. We must face head on and dismantle the systems that provide fertile soil for these injustices to thrive and grow deeper roots. In the words of James Baldwin, “not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
The egregious acts, voices and images that we have experienced, heard and witnessed make it impossible to ignore what must be faced. Everyone must commit to doing their part and not underestimate their power to influence change.
As President & CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, I commit to continue to lead this organization in a way that upholds and elevates our shared purpose. I commit to encourage and support positive dialogue around issues of equity and justice and to promote action that creates positive change in our organization, community, and country. No one can do this work alone, so I invited team members in our organization to make their own personal commitments to be the change they want to see. Below are some examples from members of our management team:
“I commit to paying attention to, and taking action to address, injustices that don’t directly affect me personally just as passionately as those that do. I commit to shining a light on micro-aggressions and language or actions that are hurtful to others – no matter who they come from. I commit to educating myself and setting an example of being anti-racist and showing love, kindness and respect to all those around me – and especially those who look, think or act differently than me – so my daughter can see what it means to be an ally, an advocate and an inclusive member of society. I commit to teaching my child about our country’s history, about the oppression and injustice that has occurred and continues to occur, and about how to love and respect all people. I commit to raising my child to have the courage to stand up to injustices when she sees them, too, so she can be part of the change her generation can make in our world.”
“I commit to listen, learn, and to develop a better understanding of the racial bias and injustice that has happened and continues to happen in today’s society. To be a voice and call out injustice and to participate in activities that can further help and heal our community and society. To be humble and compassionate when people are hurting and provide support that can provide positive healing.”
“I commit to providing a space and a platform for conversation around issues of inequality and other topics that may feel uncomfortable. I understand, although with the best of intentions, being silent and not acknowledging the current events and inequities surrounding us is not going to create positive change. I commit to supporting my community – but especially my colleagues – to ensure their health and safety by asking curious questions, learning more, understanding more and reaching out to ensure their well-being even if I don’t have the right or most button-up words to acknowledge their circumstances and realities.”
Change cannot happen when people are silent and paralyzed to act. Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. – Benjamin Franklin
What can you commit to doing to make our community the best it can be for all people? I invite you to share your personal commitment to support positive dialogue around issues of equity and justice and to promote action that creates positive change. We’re starting this conversation on our Facebook page, and will ensure it remains a safe and non-judgmental place to share your commitment. Join us at facebook.com/goodwillsp.
All The Best,
President & CEO, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont