Jun 03, 2020

The repeated image of George Floyd being murdered haunts me, as do the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and the violent deaths of so many other black and brown people. It brings back all the feelings of fear and terror of 1968, when death, destruction and assassinations dominated the media. Forty years later, we celebrated the election of our first African American president and some of us became complacent thinking we had finally turned the corner on racial inequity in America. But others knew that we still had a long way to go, pointing out the disparities in education, health, and economic well-being that still existed.

The COVID-19 pandemic shined its light on the ugly disparities that still remain. We see the disproportionate number of deaths among the Black and Latino communities due to the same lack of access to basic needs — food, shelter, healthcare, education and safety. At Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, we have pursued our mission and goal to close the opportunity gap in Fairfield County by promoting philanthropy as a means to address the most critical issues facing our communities and ensuring that our most vulnerable populations gain access to these basic human rights.

Racial inequity is the most pressing issue in our communities, our state and our country today, as it has been for several centuries. However, the events of the past week have been a clarion call to action. We have received scores of calls and emails asking “what can I do?”. And we have been asking ourselves exactly the same question. So, building on what we have learned from building relationships with our nonprofits, our community leaders and our donors over the years, and while facing the COVID-19 pandemic we will:

Listen and Learn — from our community residents and leaders their pain and their needs

Educate and Inform — our donors and funders to understand the pervasive nature of racism

Convene — our neighbors and partners from all sectors-public, private, nonprofit, to share truth and create systemic change

Advocate — for just laws that remove barriers and empower every individual

Provide funds and resources — to organizations that effectively champion racial equity and social justice

We know that this battle for equity and justice requires courage, intense commitment and the collective will to change the system so that together we can all thrive. We invite you to join us in creating the future.

Juanita T. James
President & CEO,
Fairfield County’s Community Foundation