Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
NAVIGATION

 

A letter from our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council to May staff in honor of Juneteenth. 

June 17th, 2022

One Hundred Fifty-Seven Years Later…

“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Every Juneteenth, the Black community celebrates progress. Though progress is often delayed, the community’s resilience and perseverance through history marshals it forward. 

Juneteenth commemorates June 19th in 1865, when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, were finally notified that slavery had ended in the United States. By the time federal troops brought word to this last and most remote bastion of slavery, 2½ years had passed since the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Juneteenth is also known as African American Freedom Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, Jubilee Day, or Emancipation Day. 

One hundred fifty-seven years later, the United States continues to grapple with systemic racism. The deep and pervasive scars left by our nation’s history of slavery and racism remain. 

Just over a month ago, one of the deadliest racist massacres in our country’s history took place when an 18-year-old who believes in a white supremacist ideology known as replacement theory, shot and killed 10 people, and injured three more, at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. Almost all of the victims were Black. 

Lynching—violent public acts that were used to terrorize and control Black people in the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly in the South (Naacp.org)—was declared as a federal hate crime only weeks ago, on March 29th, 2022. It has taken more than 100 years and 200 failed attempts for the United States to pass a bill that criminalizes lynching. The new Emmett Till Antilynching Act makes lynching punishable by up to 30 years in prison, can carry a fine, or both (Npr.org).

Our country is not alone in its deplorable deeds. Black people in many nations continue to face racism and discrimination. Even as the world watched with sadness and heartache as Ukrainians fled the country, Black people there faced barriers to their safety. In the midst of war, there are many reports of Black people being turned away at border crossings. There are even reports of animals being allowed on trains before Africans.

Black Lives Matter. 

May Institute’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council continues to work towards inclusion, equality, equity, and justice. The Council stands in solidarity with those who speak out against systemic racism and oppression and are working to dismantle it. We continue to stand with the African American and Black communities.  

 

A letter from our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council to May staff concerning recent events
November 19, 2021 

This has been a devastating week for us on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council, a feeling that is undoubtedly shared with many of us at May Institute. Our reasons include, but are not limited to, the following recent developments:

  • Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges after shooting 3 people, resulting in the deaths of two, during the 2020 protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. 
  • Christopher Belter plead guilty to raping four teenage girls, yet will not spend time in prison. 
  • There was a last-minute reprieve of Julius Jones, but will it stand? Julius has spent over 20 years on death row for murder, even though he has consistently asserted that he is innocent. Explicit racial bias occurred during his trial process. 

This news is not only devastating, but it further exemplifies the systemic racism and social justice issues that are not only present but are prevalent. As the DEI Council, we grieve these injustices both as allies and as those who are directly affected… but we channel that energy into our healing process (which will undoubtedly result in scars) and by standing in alliance against these issues. We invite you to do the same. We are ONE.

In solidarity,

Lauren and the DEI Council

 

A letter from our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council to May staff concerning the earthquake that has hit Haiti
August 16, 2021

As we begin this week, events in many parts of the world are causing a great deal of pain and suffering. Our hearts and minds and prayers are with all those impacted and their loved ones throughout the world. That includes the people of Haiti who are enduring the aftermath of yet another devastating natural disaster. Many employees and families at May call Haiti home, and/or have family in Haiti directly affected by the earthquake. We are so sorry for your pain.

Sincerely,

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council

 

A letter from our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council to May staff acknowledging Juneteenth
June 2021

A mere 156 years ago, on June 19, 1865, enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, were finally notified that slavery had ended in the United States. By the time federal troops brought word to this last and most remote bastion of slavery, two-and-a-half years had passed since the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Juneteenth (also known as African American Freedom Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, Jubilee Day, or Emancipation Day) commemorates this momentous event – one far too long in coming. 

Last year, Massachusetts’ governor proclaimed June 19 a state holiday to recognize “the continued need to ensure racial freedom and equality.” All other states have done the same over time, with three doing so only this year. Legislation establishing Juneteenth National Independence Day as a federal holiday was signed into law by President Joseph Biden yesterday, June 17, 2021, after finally passing through Congress. This recognition represents a heightened awareness and acknowledgment of our history, but the country as a whole has been slow on this front.  

The United States continues to grapple with systemic racism and its effects. The deep and pervasive scars left by our nation’s history of slavery and systemic racism remain -- their impact addressed too slowly, their existence sometimes not even recognized and/or acknowledged. This begs the question: Is enough being done by individual people, groups within society, and society as a whole to ensure equality, equity, inclusion, and justice for all? And is it timely? 

Progress should be celebrated. Juneteenth serves as a beacon of hope; a reminder of what can and should be. But much work remains. Continued honest self-reflection, dialogue, learning, and action are critical at this juncture.  

We believe Black Lives Matter. We continue working towards inclusion, equality, equity, and justice. We continue standing in solidarity with those who speak out against systemic racism and oppression and work to dismantle it. We continue to stand with the African American and Black communities.  

To learn more and access resources, click on the following: 

“What is Juneteenth,” juneteenth.com: https://bit.ly/3cFXOtC 

“The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth,” National Museum of African American History and Culture: https://s.si.edu/3gvFyV8 

“Emancipation and the Meaning of Juneteenth” by Graham Russell Gao Hodges: https://bit.ly/2TxIRTC  

“Juneteenth: The Growth of an African American Holiday (1865 - )” by Quintard Taylor: https://bit.ly/3xgQlJx  

Happy Juneteenth!