Dear Valued Member,
While we normally associate July 4th and the commemoration of our Declaration of Independence with vacations, parades, picnics, and family reunions, this year is different. This year our celebrations are tempered by social distancing, economic uncertainty, and the heightened awareness that not all Americans are treated equally. While we have much to celebrate as Americans, there is much work to do and I’m heartened to see difficult conversations take root.
I’m sure many of you felt as I did – angry, disgusted, and helpless – when you witnessed the brutality inflicted upon George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. And while these horrific events were the ones captured on camera and carried to the national stage, it’s a heartbreaking fact that these incidents and other affronts to human dignity and personal safety have been an ongoing part of the narrative of what it means to be Black in the United States of America.
Since these appalling incidents have come to light, we’ve held many discussions about racism among our Board of Directors, members of senior management, and the credit union’s Diversity Council. In these conversations we’ve committed to taking a stand against racism and doing all we can to contribute to meaningful change in the communities we serve. As is often said, the first step toward recovery is to acknowledge a problem exists. And there is a problem in our community. It’s especially blatant in Northwest Jacksonville where 50 years after consolidation the quality of life continues to suffer through soaring rates of violent crime, denial of access to jobs and economic prosperity, lack of access to quality education, or even having access to healthy food that people in other parts of our city take for granted.
I’ll be up front with you by saying that I don’t have all the answers. What I do know is this credit union carries a proud history of serving our diverse communities while promoting economic inclusion and upward mobility for the most underserved.
In starting our journey to close the racial divide, our first priority is making sure our own house is in order. We’re taking a hard look at our programs, policies, and procedures with an eye toward how they impact people. We want to identify and address any practices that – no matter how well-intentioned – may unfairly treat persons of color and other protected groups. Within the next 45 days we’ll launch the first of many training sessions for our leaders and associates focusing on issues involving diversity, inclusion, and identifying and rooting out systemic racism.
In the following weeks and months, we’ll build upon these efforts and seek out additional opportunities to serve our community. We’re passionate about bringing the best of the Credit Union’s humanity and Values toward making a positive difference in these divisive times and promoting equal treatment, opportunity and respect for all.
Thank you for your support as we work together to create a better future for our community and ensure that the pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Happiness is afforded to every American, in equal measure. ■