Joining Together: A Message From Our President & CEO

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A Message From Debbie Wilkerson, President & CEO

Debbie Wilkerson, President & CEO

Right now, many are feeling fear, sadness, helplessness, and perhaps shame, including myself.

Our minds are filled with images: The brutal killings grounded in racism; the indignity of a wise black man in Central Park.

This pain is deep and lasting.

For me, the shame comes as I imagine every person of color I care about standing before me with kind, but tired eyes, beckoning “NOW do you understand?”

I do. I am sorry.

I hope this is a pivot moment when humans understand the responsibility we each have to recognize and change systems that have been wrong for so long.

For centuries, policies and systems have failed people of color in our city and our country. Systemic racism is embedded in our everyday life, with many of us unnoticing.

That is why the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation’s leadership work is singularly focused on racial equity. First, we must understand the systems, then we must unwind them. That is when change can occur.

While we pursue our leadership work with even greater determination, I am hopeful each and every one of us, as individuals, with all our flaws and our strengths, can join together to listen, learn, and explore. We each have the power to uncover and change systems that govern our daily lives.

As we look for understanding and knowledge, I recommend Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt’s book, Biased, Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice that Shapes What We See, Think, and Do. It explains much of what has occurred. Her work with police departments is hopeful. Her research and teachings extend to every industry.

What has existed for centuries will not require centuries to cure. But it will require change, training, and will.

So let’s not wait. Let’s get going. We have no more time to waste.

Authored By: Debbie Wilkerson, President & CEO