I, my colleagues, and the families served by Charlotte Family Housing stand with civil rights leaders, first responders, and all who are committed to racial justice and equity. We grieve with all who cry and mourn the unlawful actions that have caused the deaths of so many of our citizens, most recently and tragically Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. Let me paraphrase Martin Niemöller:

First, they came for Native Americans and no one spoke out –
Because we were not Indians.
Then they came for African Americans and no one spoke out –
Because we were not Black.
Then they came for Latinxs and no one spoke –
Because we were not Hispanics.
Then they came for Muslims and no one spoke –
Who will speak out when they come for you?

Courageous Americans in Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and here in Charlotte are speaking out. Many are doing so peacefully, graciously, and hoping to transform the systemic racism that has infected us longer than COVID-19; systemic racism is a virus that has lasted 400 years. America has convulsed before, and has recovered, only to be knocked down again because of our collective failure to listen. America has failed to act decisively and surgically to remove the cancers of racism, sexism, homophobia, and the other ugly fears and myths that have polluted our body politic.

We at Charlotte Family Housing speak for change; we advocate for the homeless and the poor. We support those in our community who are seizing power to forge a new path toward social justice. Cesar Chavez first coined the phrase “Si, Se Puede,” which President Barack Obama used in his campaign for change—“Yes We Can.” Together, we can change America by ensuring the promissory note Dr. Martin Luther King spoke about has sufficient funds in America’s checking account through our advocacy, dialogue, and by engaging our First-Amendment rights to protest and speak out peacefully.

America, please stay safe and well through these turbulent times squeezed between these two viruses.