LISC stands in unity with the protests that are sweeping our country, and their core message—that every life is sacred, says Maurice A. Jones, LISC’s president and CEO, in a video message. We are committed, he affirms, to continuing the work to dismantle structural racism and create an equitable America for all.
One of my fondest memories from my childhood is a refrain that I used to always hear from my grandfather whenever I would ask him for something. For example, if he were drinking lemonade, I would say, “Grandpa, can I have a sip of your lemonade?” He would look at me and respond immediately. “Everything I have is yours. Of course you can have my lemonade.” “Everything I have is yours” was a refrain I heard throughout my upbringing from my grandfather. It was, for me, the most powerful lesson in sharing that I received. And it's a lesson that I still try to live into.
Unfortunately, I think it's the greatest struggle. The greatest unrealized aspiration of our American experiment: You see from day one there has been a belief, particularly among those empowering our country, that if you do not share my race or my religion or my gender or my sexual orientation, you do not share my humanity. And at best, I can treat you as a second class citizen. And at worst, I don't respect the sacredness of your life.
That shameful theme throughout the American experiment is what we're still struggling with today. It's the reason why a young black man can be out for a jog and could be shot down like it's hunting season. It's the reason why a young man can be arrested and killed in broad daylight, by a police officer who kneels on his neck until he suffocated. It is the American struggle for us to internalize in our systems, in our institutions like our police, the belief that all people share in the human family's journey.
It is what at the end of the day, our work is about at LISC. The reason why we put together coalitions to make sure that folks have affordable quality housing. The reason why we work to help people get prepared for jobs that pay a living wage. The reason why we work with partners to make sure that people can actually have small businesses in their communities we believe that you do not have to share my race or my ideology or my religion to be accorded my humanity, that all people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
It's at the core of our work. It's what we want to do more of, it is the invitation that we feel and that I believe the country right now is feeling. The protests that are going on at the end of the day are about people demanding that all people, without any threshold qualifications or prerequisites, that all people should be treated as first class citizens, as the kings and queens that we are we want to affirm the request behind the protest.
At the same time, the violence and the destructiveness are a small part of these protests. We need to wipe [that] out. We need to keep the central message, that those who do not share my race, do not share my religion, do not share my gender, still share my humanity. That I will treat them with the sacredness that their humanity deserves.
We look forward to making that principle, that creed, deeper and deeper a part of our institutions and our journey. So thanks to all who are acting on this, and let's keep the faith. Many people before us acted on that belief and made progress. Not linear, there've been good days and bad days. We're in tough days now, but let's stay faithful to that principle, to that belief. And let's keep fighting the good fight. We need to do it. America needs us to do it. And all the people who have an experience of being second class citizens need us to keep fighting the fight. Thank you.