I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the impact of recent and on-going events on our Juma community, particularly for our BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) youth and colleagues.
As many have suggested, the tragic killing of George Floyd is just one of the incidents fueling this civil unrest. We have spent the past months wrestling with the knowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color. And even before then, inequity and injustice was and has been a regular part of the daily lives of many of our youth and staff. I recall our Juma youth being confronted by security guards during college tours (more than once), questioning their belonging and right to be; I knew then, as I know now, those interactions were motivated by racial stereotypes.
Many at Juma come to this work to challenge and dismantle the injustice we see perpetrated by systemic racism, rooted in our history of slavery and anti-blackness. At Juma, the core of our work is to create jobs for youth who wouldn’t otherwise have access to opportunity, and our vision includes a job market (an economy) that is inclusive, equitable, and diverse. As an organization, we recognize that systems must change to truly create equality. As we rebuild our economy in the coming months, perhaps years, we remain optimistic that we will have the opportunity to create more equity, not less.
Juma staff will be convening to discuss how to continue to support our youth, and each other, through these trying times. We stand for our youth, we stand for our community, and we believe that everyone in our community will be better served with racist systems dismantled.