Joint Official Statement
Recent events have prompted the following response from the Capital District Kiwanis Family:
We are at a pivotal point in our country and in our organizations’ history. Indeed, it is a moment of reckoning. Future generations will carefully examine this moment to see how we responded as a Kiwanis Family – to see which path our organizations took and what role each and every member played. As we look around, we cannot help but see a clear directive for real and immediate change. We will bring that call for action to each and every branch of our Kiwanis Family within the Capital District – Kiwanis, Key Club, CKI, Builder’s Club, K-Kids, and Aktion Club – to drive change. We recommit to identifying and eliminating systemic racism within our organizations in all its forms because Black Lives Matter.
Many Americans are taking to the streets of their communities – protesting and showing their pain, their frustration, and their anger. Citizens are taking to social media to share resources, raise money, and spread awareness of the evils of racism and other forms of discrimination that make any person feel as if they are less than what they are: human.
While the catalyst for this moment was the unjust murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, this was not an isolated event. There is a straight line that runs from slavery, to Jim Crow, to legal segregation, to institutional racism, and to the killings of many in recent years: Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, and Freddie Gray – right here in Baltimore. Sadly, these are just a few of the names we know. These individuals and their families deserve justice. Our Kiwanis Family must do all it can to deliver that.
While many of our members cannot begin to understand the feelings of those who have lived in fear and are constantly faced with racial disparity, we are prepared as a Kiwanis Family to have the hard conversations, to listen, to hear, to understand, and to act upon the lessons we learn. The recent public health pandemic has inflicted disproportionate harm on communities of color. This is putting a spotlight on inequality in our economic, health care, and education systems that have existed for some time. Many of us have benefitted from the privilege of ignoring the topic because it did not pertain to us. The time to acknowledge our bias is now, and the time to put our clubs to work addressing these inequalities has arrived. We will ignore it no longer.
Our Kiwanis Family consists of members focused on improving the lives of our youth. However, there are currently future leaders who are scared to stand up due to the fear of discrimination and oppression. We will not be silent and allow the very youth we serve to be harmed. We will commit our resources and members to supporting and protecting them.
We will utilize this opportunity to talk about how all forms of discrimination explicitly and implicitly enter service clubs like ours. We will examine the support systems we have in place for members of our organizations who identify as part of the Black community or any other underrepresented race. We will educate our club members and officers on what it means to be inclusive. We will ensure that our clubs and their members understand and value diversity and actively practice inclusive excellence. We will create training and learning opportunities for members to identify their explicit and implicit racial bias as we all work to become actively anti-racist. This will take the form of educational workshops, discussion groups, book clubs, or intergroup dialogues. It will involve uncomfortable conversations, honest dialogue, and a willingness for change. Together, we can educate members of our clubs to end the systemic inequities that exist within our organizations. We will make the organizations within our Kiwanis Family visibly live the principle of inclusivity and express a more clear vision of anti-racism (and anti-ageism, sexism, ableism, and a long list of other forms of discrimination) in the work we do and in how we treat others – our fellow members, the youth with whom we work, and those in our community whom we serve. There is no other option.
We condemn members of our Kiwanis Family who engage in acts of racism or other forms of discrimination, hate, and prejudice. These behaviors are intolerable and are unwelcome in our Kiwanis Family. To our members, if you witness anyone engaging in such discriminatory behaviors, please bring it to your district leadership’s attention. There is no place for hate in our communities or organizations. We will not allow it in the Capital District.
We will work to better our communities and Kiwanis Family. We will act with urgency and determination to live up to the promise of the Objects of our various Kiwanis Family branches. This is our pledge. We have avoided these conversations for too long. We will make our organizations more inclusive and more equitable – and we will maintain these traits for generations of our Kiwanis Family. We know and believe that Black Lives Matter, and we are prepared to do all that is necessary to make the Capital District a place of inclusion, understanding, and love. This statement outlines initial steps in our plan of action, however this is not the end. There are changes we are making today. There are changes that will take time. But leave no doubt, the time for change is now. And we will change.
- Capital District CKI Board of Officers
- Capital District Key Club Board of Officers
- Capital District Kiwanis Board of Trustees
Date: June 07, 2020 at a joint meeting of the Kiwanis Family District Boards