Social injustice and racial inequalities must come to an end. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, James Scurlock and too many other Black people are acts of terror.
We know these senseless deaths have caused great pain and angst for all Summer Searchers and have had an especially traumatic impact on our black-identifying students, staff, and community members.
In times of crisis, everyone reacts differently — from speaking out, to reflecting inward, and everything in between. We wanted to spotlight how a few folks in our Summer Search family have responded publicly — from expressing their emotions, rallying their communities, sharing resources, and much more.
Antonio M. — Philadelphia Post-Secondary Student
Antonio posted a powerful illustration on his Instagram, with the caption: “WE WILL NO LONGER BE SILENCED! This needs to stop. I’m not a killer. I’m not a thug. I’m not a threat. I won’t be treated as such. Respect me as a human.”
Marie Pierre — Boston Alumna & Bay Area Alumni Board Co-Chair
“It’s a huge disservice to us all when we treat racism as a black and/vs white issue. Racism is so embedded in the fabric and structure of our country and society that we can only see it as a polarizing issue but in fact, it exists on a spectrum ranging from overt to casual to embedded (micro-aggressions). There are intersectional ways that the harm shows up. You will always mess up doing this work but the purpose of anti-racism work is that you’re willing to learn, to grow, to put individual ego aside to help build solidarity and community. This is not a pass or excuse to remain uninformed or feign ignorance or helpless on the topic but that my purpose is to state that if you must choose between silence or discomfort you will choose discomfort because silence is violence.”
Sonne — Seattle Post-Secondary Student
Sonne has also been sharing resources for protesting and ways to be an ally. He also held a conversation on Instagram Live (private account) with fellow students, holding his University accountable on a number of racial and social issues:
“Naming the inconsistencies and harmful characteristics of Seattle Pacific University and other various sociological contexts.”
Ron German — Boston Alumnus
Ron kept it short and to the point with this tweet.
“MAKE SURE YOU VOTE! Bottle this anger and release it at the ballot booth!”
Lex Ramirez — Seattle Alumna
“This is an issue in many Latinx communities and other POC communities but I am Mexican and speaking to my truth. Mexican people often hate on black people so much because we refuse to recognize an oppressive White system that hates us too. We’d rather perpetuate racism to feel better than fight the real powers that keep us down — and I get it, how exhausting to have to fight even more, we are all dealing with our own personal hardships. But I’ll say it again, people outraged by a Black person’s outrage — YOU ARE RACIST. And we are all racist — people feel uncomfortable acknowledging that because you might be embarrassed, don’t want your arguments to be invalidated or are genuinely not aware of your racial biases. Recognize this and work ACTIVELY to change it.”
Zach Norris — Bay Area Alumnus
Zach is the Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and recently published a book called We Keep Us Safe, a new vision of care-based strategies for building secure, just, and inclusive communities. He and members of his organization shared photos and perspectives on Twitter from the protests in Oakland.
“Proud to stand with #TheTown to honor Black lives, Sit Out the Curfew and #SitinforourYouth. We won’t be silenced while our people continue to die at the hands of a racist law enforcement system. #BlackLivesMatter #DefundThePolice”
Mamata Tamang — Seattle Alumna
Mamata posted a poem she wrote called “Justice.”
“I wrote this poem a while ago, but I want to share today to acknowledge what is happening around our communities. My brothers and sisters you are not alone. We stand along you….. ❤️ #BlackLivesMatter”
Teke Kelley — National Board Chair
In an email to fellow members of the Summer Search National Board, Teke (above, far left) talked about how he could use his privilege to do more.
“I remind myself to stay focused on the present. What is the next right step? For me, today, I am attending a protest march at Mission High School in San Francisco with two of my children. I want to be heard, I want to be seen, I want my children to see that this is important to me, I want black people to see that there are white people who care about this issue, and I want civic leaders to know that fundamental and comprehensive reform in our police departments is a political necessity.”
Stacey Thompson & Antonio Brown — National Staff
Over the last few years, Summer Search has invested significant energy in creating awareness, norms, and practices that integrate equity and well-being throughout everything we do, especially internally. With the context of COVID-19 and the #BlackLivesMatter Movement, and with the voices of our staff, we are leaning deeper into the structural and systemic changes we can make as an organization. The following was part of a message to staff around equity and well-being, co-written by Stacey Thompson (also a Bay Area alumna) and Antonio Brown.
“We wish for a day when we don’t need plans and worksheets to make well-being possible and justified. The day when we just inherently have enough trust, autonomy, and mutuality that it just exists. In the meantime, we do need to create structures that support equitable well-being. Processes that are consistent and reliable are important right now so that staff with the least power, privilege, and positionality have access to support, advocacy, and resources that support and value their well-being.”
Dr. Marc Spencer — CEO
Marc and Summer Search’s leadership team have been in many conversations with staff and supporters across the organization on how we can respond to our community’s needs and better address the systemic problems in our country. In messages to staff and board members, he has shared a few of the other organizations he is involved in, including the following:
“The senior leadership of Summer Search knows this is a time for action, dialogue, and change both within our own walls and in our communities. This is a time that calls for a very real and thorough self-assessment of each of our commitments to social and racial equity. Personally, I am supporting Stacey Abrams, politician and founder of Fair Fight Action, on voter rights issues, supporting the Black Economic Alliance to put more values-based elected officials into office, and using my network (including those in the Coalition of Black Excellence) to advocate for an XPrize grant focused on the Dismantling of White Supremacy.”
Will, Bryant, & Noble — Philadelphia Students
Will, Bryant, and Noble are three of many (including several other Summer Searchers) who are participating in a social media movement proudly celebrating their identities as Black men. They’re sharing photos of themselves with the following caption, and encouraging their friends and peers to join in.
“We are BLACK MEN!…. We build…. We don’t tear down other BLACK MEN! …. We have felt the pain of being torn down and we have decided we will deliberate about building others! All too often we men find it easier to criticize each other, instead of building each other up. With all the negativity going around, let’s do something positive!!”