Each time I turn on the news or listen to the radio these days it has literally stopped me in my tracks. Whether it is the violent and hate-filled actions in Charlottesville, the immigration policies, including the Dreamers Act, the heated discussions on race and patriotism in sports, or the way we handle the needs of people who have been caught in national disasters, it all feels painful and personal. But we know it is happening to all of us. It has been so difficult that I have been challenged as the President and CEO of MNA to make a significant statement on the need for civility, fairness, equity and humanity.
The fact that we NEED to still have these conversations in 2017, especially in the nonprofit world, is mind boggling. Our organizations’ mission is to serve and support a host of diverse individuals and families. Without them, we wouldn’t exist. To be effective, we must be able to put aside the “isms” of race, class, sex and gender, and ability.
MNA has taken an important step in broadening the lane and building bridges through our Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Assessment—a tool we designed to help Michigan nonprofit organizations assess their current statuses and future progress on the journey to make these values a reality.
The assessment wasn’t created in a vacuum. It was developed with input from nonprofit experts and practitioners, literature on best practices, and the collective experience of the framing partners. As difficult as these times are, I am proud that our organization has taken steps to provide the much-needed space, through this assessment tool, to think, discuss and embrace diversity, inclusion and equity. This kind of inward reflection will be difficult. But it couldn’t possibly be more challenging that the constant rhetoric that seeks to divide us.
But we must have the tools to help the people who look to us, feel safe, respected and included. This is a fundamental value at MNA. And we hope that it is a basic principle of equity, and the value of civil discourse, even when we disagree. We encourage you to work with us to bring about change in a real and meaningful way. As the leadership of nonprofits in Michigan, we must be brave enough to say, “not on my watch.” As nonprofits, we really are on the front lines of creating the communities, states and country we want to see. We know it doesn’t happen right away but if we work together and commit to fairness, and yes, kindness and empathy we can make this happen.
Personally, I have grown more weary each week. But I have refocused my thoughts and actions on the things that we can do, and that MNA must do. I am energized and excited. And I find myself thinking not of feeling helpless, but of the old song that was a staple of the Civil Rights movement. I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired. We can’t be too tired to come together, because we have too much work to do on behalf of those we serve.