Posted June 11, 2020
A Message from HFHM President & CEO Sandy Pearson
On behalf of Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, we join all in mourning of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. This mourning extends to the many more Black Americans in our communities who have been the victims of senseless acts of violence and institutional as well as individual racism. The national outcry surrounding the deaths of these individuals has caused an awakening in me and throughout the Habitat for Humanity network. I know this because I’ve been regularly joined by affiliate leaders on Zoom calls as we unite and move forward together in response to the pandemic. Our recent calls have been different. We were being deliberately uncomfortable with our conversation because we know as predominately white leaders we must change the story. Our mission is rooted in the Civil Rights movement in southern Georgia. Habitat for Humanity’s mission is a response to racial injustice. We have done a lot, but we must do much more and with a sense of urgency.
My housing career began when I was hired by a woman attorney who is African American in the Office of Civil Rights. Margaret Brown (pictured left with me and my daughters) taught me the history of racial discrimination in Michigan caused by government policy, specifically transportation and housing policy. I spent three years at her side learning like a sponge. The education changed me. I am known for being a houser and for partnering with people to achieve their financial goals and goal to own a home. What I don’t talk about enough is that I do what I do to put a voice to racial equity and opportunity. I am about fair and just lending and fair and just opportunities to own or rent a healthy, safe home within one’s budget. I thought I have been doing what I can. The killing of Mr. Floyd has awakened me to realize I must take all that I have been given, learned, and earned and get louder. I commit to being far more deliberate about taking real action to change the story of racial equity.
I ask that you join me and take this moment to listen, learn, and recommit to our mission.
Here are a few resources provided by Habitat for Humanity International you may find helpful:
- 10 books to educate yourself on race, bias and privilege in America
- Lead a courageous conversation with these five steps
- Watch Just Mercy which is currently being offered for free. It is a powerful true story about the Equal Justice Initiative, the people they represent and the importance of confronting injustice. Here is a discussion guide with the movie.
- How to be an Ally during times of tragedy
- Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They Are Okay - Chances Are They Are Not
- Equality Includes You
Additional things you can do:
- Support legislation against hate crime for states where this is applicable. Reach out to your state representatives and senators.
- Encourage your employees and others in your community to embrace and practice "Allyship"
- Encourage your employees and others in your community to complete the 2020 Census by visiting https://2020census.gov/.
- Encourage your employees and others in your community to vote in upcoming elections for leaders impacting change.