June 11, 2020
This is an open note to all North Carolinians:
To be clear, deep-rooted racism has shaped our country’s and our state’s institutions, systems, structures and laws from the beginning and continues to perpetuate these injustices to this day. As Americans, we aspire to form a more perfect union and must come together to reimagine a country where fairness and justice prevail, especially for communities of color. Recent events, including the utterly tragic death of George Floyd, a native of North Carolina, at the hands of law enforcement, compounded with the COVID-19 pandemic that is disproportionately impacting people of color, have highlighted vast endemic disparities and racial injustices that communities of color, particularly Black and African American communities, continue to endure.
Law enforcement is one aspect of our society that is perpetuating racism and that must be held accountable, and those who now arouse the conscience of our communities and our nation over these injustices, are in reality expressing the highest respect for the law and holding those accountable who are currently charged with its enforcement. Police brutality is systemically and disproportionately impacting Black and African American communities across the nation and is, and has been, responsible for the senseless deaths of a string of individuals in recent history. And yet, law enforcement is but one example of many aspects of our society indicative of a larger societal problem that unnecessarily limits the ability of people of color to live fully productive lives and, therefore, to realize our state’s and this country's true potential.
The core values of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) embrace equity, dignity, fairness and justice. We support the dismantling of systems and structures that limit opportunities for individuals, groups and communities to reach their full potential. We strongly believe that a person’s racial identity should not be a predictor of one’s life outcomes. Our Foundation condemns acts of violence toward individuals and communities of color and stands in solidarity with our grantee partners who have been actively working to address systemic and structural racism for many years as they continue to work towards equity and justice.
We challenge all North Carolinians to act in a similar fashion and to join us in reimagining our future. The need for sustained structural change is not new, but if we are to succeed in realizing the full potential of North Carolina as a place where everyone can thrive, we must work urgently, now more than ever, both individually and collectively to dismantle racism.
While ZSR recognizes that this work must address every sector of society, in light of recent events related to law enforcement, ZSR is immediately awarding $200,000 to support the efforts of grassroots, community-based organizations, including several current grantees, in the areas of criminal justice and law enforcement accountability, equity, and transparency, particularly related to the treatment of Black communities. These organizations are:
- Alternate ROOTS, Inc. for the work of SpiritHouse
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of NC Legal Foundation, Inc.
- Beloved Community Center of Greensboro, Inc.
- Blueprint NC for the North Carolina Statewide Police Accountability Network (NC SPAN)
- BYP100 Education Fund Durham Chapter
- Carolina Justice Policy Center (CJPC) for its Emancipate NC project
- Forward Justice
- YWCA of Asheville and Western NC, Inc. for the Racial Justice Coalition (RJC)