Today, we remember George Floyd and every Black life lost in the fight for racial equity. Today, we remember history and ground ourselves in our commitment to the work ahead.
One year after the senseless murder of George Floyd, the fight continues for a more just and equitable society for people of color. In the past year, history repeated itself as Black people continue to be killed by police at rates not seen in White communities.
During the pandemic, people of color experienced an outsized share of COVID hospitalizations, deaths and job losses. These stacked inequities only begin to illustrate the enormous work ahead to undo systemic racism in our institutions of power and the discriminatory ideas and biases we are all subject to.
Last year, LIIF refreshed our mission statement to read that, “Everyone in the United States should benefit from living in a community of opportunity, equity and well-being.” We recognized, after almost four decades of working in predominantly communities of color, that centering racial equity and community-driven solutions were critical components of achieving that mission. Last year’s protests in response to George Floyd’s murder and the Movement for Black Lives was an accelerating moment for us. These events crystallized the fact that racial equity is not just a component of our mission, but central to our collective success.
In the past year, we have made an organizational pledge to center racial equity in our work going forward. We launched a new strategic plan and committed to driving $5 billion in investments over the next decade to advance racial equity. We also:
- Passed a Board resolution to prioritize social justice and racial equity throughout our organizational practices and programs;
- Reviewed our pay practices with an equity lens for disparities and instituted salary banding for parity;
- Organized the staff-led social justice and racial equity committee as a permanent, productive entity and established monthly staff conversations on racial equity in addition to ongoing trainings;
- Welcomed many new staff members, 85% of whom are people of color, thanks, in part, to recruiting strategies that focus on diversifyihng our candidate pool; and
- Began to more intentionally use our platform and voice to drive access, outcomes and power for communities of color. For example, LIIF recently invested $10 million in the SEED School of Los Angeles, a planned high school prioritizing racial equity, social support and a career pipeline for the mostly Black and Latino student population.
While we have made significant internal strides, we recognize that the work of learning, practicing and institutionalizing racial equity is never complete. We must also change the way we work in the world. As a community development financial institution, we must tackle the inequities long-embedded in capital deployment.
In the coming months, we will share our new framework for embedding racial equity into our lending practices. We’ll also launch new initiatives that center racial equity when building communities of opportunity, like an upcoming initiative to increase capital available to Black developers who, despite experience and expertise, face barriers to investment due to lack of generational wealth. LIIF and our staff are committed to ensuring that people from all backgrounds can live safely in communities of opportunity, equity, well-being with equitable access to housing, education and capital to reap the rewards of their contributions.
LIIF offices are closed today for remembrance, healing and action. We are encouraging staff to use the day to deepen their knowledge of racial equity issues, engage in volunteer work or training – or simply rest. Below are some resources we’ve shared with staff and hope you find useful.
- Explore the impact of 250 years of slavery in the U.S. and its legacy via the 1619 Project and curriculum for teaching kids
- A six-part series on George Floyd’s America (Washington Post)
- How the Community Development Industry Can Approach Safety and Policing (LIIF & Purpose Built Communities)
- Practice “rest as resistance” with practical tips from The Nap Ministry
- Watch an inspirational film showcasing Black excellence. (Hidden Figures, Black Panther, Miss Juneteenth, Black Power Mixtape, I am Not Your Negro, Southside with You, John Lewis: Good Trouble, Hair Love, to name a few.)
- Adopt one new creative self-care practice. (See this list from women of color working in wellness & mental health)
- Join the George Floyd Memorial Fund for a virtual Day of Action today. (Check out the resources for posting content, donating, calling your senator and more)
- Sign up for a virtual bystander intervention training and learn to safely engage during incidents of harassment, discrimination or a hate crime. (Sign up for free via Hollaback or Asian Americans Advancing Justice)
- Read and practice how to talk to your kids about racism (Dr. Y. Joy Harris-Smith)