Dear May Colleagues,
There are more than one billion people around the globe experiencing a disability, and that number is rising dramatically. These individuals often face multiple forms of discrimination, segregation, and exclusion.
On December 3rd, we celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). This day highlights the importance taking of actionable steps to remove barriers, so people with disabilities can fully participate in society and reach their full potential.
Established in 1992 by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, IDPD aims to promote the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities through education and advocacy. It also seeks to raise awareness of contributions of people with disabilities “in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life” (UN Department of Social Economic Affairs).
This year’s IDPD theme is ‘Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fueling an accessible and equitable world’.
As a human services organization proudly serving individuals across the lifespan with autism, developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, neurological disorders, and behavior disorders, May Institute is dedicated to promoting independence, choice, dignity, and respect for persons with disabilities. We are also committed to fostering a diverse workplace culture that supports disability inclusion; employees with disabilities make invaluable contributions to the mission, vision, and values of our organization.
On this day of observance, we pay special tribute to the individuals we serve as well as our employees with disabilities across all our centers, schools, residences, and the larger May community.
To learn more about IDPD and themes from previous years, visit International Day of Persons with Disabilities – 3 December | United Nations Enable
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) Council
Dear May Colleagues,
On November 13-19th, we proudly celebrate Transgender Awareness Week! While transgender people are increasingly visible in our society, they still face severe discrimination in employment, housing, health care, education, and legal systems. They also face violence—and, too often, death—as a result of hate crimes. At May Institute, we prioritize the safety, dignity, and respect of our transgender colleagues. Whether you identify as a transgender person or an ally, we invite you to view the videos and resources below.
Lastly, on November 20th, we honor the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of transphobic violence on Transgender Day of Remembrance. Gwendolyn Ann Smith, Transgender Day of Remembrance founder, writes:
"Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people -- sometimes in the most brutal ways possible -- it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice."
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) Council
“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.
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:
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.
Lauren and the DEI Council
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.
The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council
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