For more than a week, protesters have taken to the streets around the country and around the world to demand social justice after the murder of George Floyd and the tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others before them. All of us have seen many images of violence and unrest on television and social media. These images can be difficult to process for all of us, and even more difficult to understand through the eyes of youth.
The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah is to ignite the potential of our youth. Most children we serve are people of color and more than half of our volunteers are white. So, in many cases we are matching white Bigs with Littles of color; and these relationships last as long as those relationships where Big and Littles share the same race.
We believe one-to-one mentoring is powerful. Mentorship can bring two people from very different backgrounds together, and the beauty is that both the Big and the Little benefit. Both learn from the relationship. Both become more accepting of others who are different. Both become better because of the relationship.
Our mission has always been important and impactful, but it has become clearer to us that we need to become more intentional about this aspect of our work. It is our responsibility as mentors, parents, teachers, professionals, etc., to educate our youth. But now more than ever it is clear we must educate ourselves and take a strong anti-racist stand. We are committing to all of you that moving forward, we are taking action to:
- We will continue to develop culturally-relevant training and resources that are shared with our Bigs, families, staff and stakeholders, informed by national experts.
- We are talking to leaders to dismantle racism, address implicit bias and shine a light on the practice of helping others in a self-serving manner rather than with the dignity that all people deserve regardless of their race, socioeconomic status or station in life.
- We, along with our Board of Directors, are continuing to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion as we hire and partner with individuals and organizations.
- We are encouraging our supporters and community members to get out and vote and advocate for legislation and policies that protect all our communities.
- We will continue to support community leaders in their efforts to find solutions to our most challenging social justice issues.
- We will provide a variety of educational resources to our Bigs, Littles and their families, helping them to discuss what is happening and how to effectively deal with the aftermath.
- We will continue to ignite the promise and power of hope in the youth we serve.
Together, we can make a better Utah and a better world for all our children.
-The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah Team