To our Junior League Members, Friends, Family, and the Reno Community:
During this pandemic, the pain and unprocessed grief we are collectively facing are getting tremendously difficult to hold. While stories of communities coming together to support one another in the midst of COVID-19 are heartwarming and serve as much-needed reminders of the good in humanity, the fact remains there are people and systems among us that continue to perpetuate violence and injustice.
The global pandemic has not alleviated social inequities, if anything it has only deepened them. We see this in the xenophobic rhetoric surrounding COVID-19, that results in acts of bias and hate against Asian and Asian American communities. Systemic injustices have resulted in higher COVID-19 mortality rates among communities of color. As our country looks to reopen and rebuild, we must consider how our institutions have been characterized by racial inequities, such as education, housing, healthcare, and the criminal justice system.
In just these past few months, we have also seen horrific examples of racism and anti-Blackness that are continuations of our country’s long history of enslavement and structural violence. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Ahmaud Arbery and countless underreported killings, the brutal stabbing of Nina Pop and persistent violence against transwomen of color, and the accosting of Christian Cooper are all connected to the anti-Black sentiment of a society that devalues the lives of Black people.
As Junior League Leaders, we cannot stay silent and sit on the sidelines watching as our community feels the heaviness of grief. As an organization that believes in building better communities and strives for leadership excellence, many of us have asked what we can do.
When we say Junior League of Reno is a place where all are welcomed, valued, and affirmed, that comes with a responsibility to be better allies and advocates. We must see these events and face them. We must call them out. We must not ignore these painful parts of our reality. We must acknowledge these injustices and this pain.
To our Black and African American community members: we see you and we hear you. While these words could never be enough to lessen the pain you are feeling in this time, it is essential that we acknowledge that so many are hurting. We, the Junior League of Reno, promise to continue doing all we can to challenge and change systems of inequity that perpetuate anti-Blackness, racism, and bias within our community. We pledge to center equity and speak up for the most marginalized members of our community. We will listen, and we will learn how we can improve. We will advocate and emphasize accountability for our community. We will continue to work with our partners in the community to see these efforts expand across greater Nevada that we live and work in.
Our hearts are with you. Our words and actions are with you.
Jacquie Cheun, PhD
President of the Junior League of Reno