I am at a complete loss for words. What do you say? What can you say? There are no words to describe the feelings associated to knowing ten innocent Black people were murdered in the supermarket merely because they existed. No words can describe the angst, anger, and hopelessness that just ten days later, 19 children and two adults were slaughtered while in their classroom. My heart is shattered, and my thoughts are consumed by grief and frustration of these heinous crimes.
It’s been two years, almost to the date, that AFP - Greater Detroit Chapter released a statement following the social justice atrocities of 2020. I am heartbroken, yet not surprised, that in 2022 we are still having to fight for our right to live, to breathe. “I can’t breathe!” takes on an entirely different meaning. This time, it’s not only the police that have us in a chokehold, it’s the laws, policies, and dangerous and hateful rhetoric that is strangling our country’s most vulnerable; youth and people of color. As a professional group of fundraisers, we are tasked with helping to enrich the lives of those we serve. Students at an institution, single parents, performing arts groups, those facing homelessness and hunger – no matter the constituency – we work endlessly, sometimes at the sacrifice of our own well-being, to ensure our target populations get to live more enriching, quality lives. We, as thoughtful, compassionate professionals refuse to stand idly by, while many of our country’s population are fighting to just breathe.
On behalf of AFP – Greater Detroit Chapter, I send my heartfelt condolences and I extend my thoughts and prayers to the victims, their families and friends, and the communities of Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas. These sentiments, though genuine, are not enough. We cannot continue to offer our thoughts and prayers without action. It is empty and unacceptable. We will continue to be here, facing the same trials and tribulations if we do not take action now. I stand firm in our commitment of I
quity, and A
ccess (IDEA). We will continue to take action and take measurable steps toward social change and impact. In 2020, our leadership made the following commitments:
- We will host dialogues on race led by nonprofit leaders and fundraisers of color. This effort will be led by our Committee on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA), but we will also reach out to bring even more voices to this discussion.
- We will utilize our experience and resources to help nonprofits successfully recruit more diverse governing boards, executive leadership, fundraisers and volunteers. We will immediately begin to develop these as part of our professional development and other resources for members and local nonprofits.
- We will double our efforts to recruit and support fundraising professionals of color. It's also not enough to simply increase the entry to the profession, we must identify opportunities to better support a more diverse membership in their career growth and success.
As a chapter, we have upheld these commitments and they have remained high priority. We will continue to make an impact by upholding these vows. In addition, we pledge to:
- Connect members to non-biased tools, education, and resources on social and political issues such as gun violence and school shootings.
- Connect members to resources to engage our members and local nonprofits in unbiased voter engagement and advocacy.
- Offer a safe space for fundraisers to learn, grow, express, and heal. We understand that emotional and mental support helps in professional productivity and we are committed to creating opportunities for fundraisers to constructively express challenges and gain tools to achieve wellness.
Together, we will do better. We acknowledge the mass shootings that have occurred in our own backyard of Oxford, Michigan and the more recent shootings in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. In my heart of hearts, I believe we can ignite change. Today I mourn, but tomorrow I fight.
In sympathy, love, justice and peace, Shenise Foote
VP, IDEA Committee, AFP – Greater Detroit Chapter
In support and allyship, Melissa Weisse, CFRE
President, AFP – Greater Detroit Chapter
Say their names:Buffalo, NY Victims
1. Roberta A. Drury, 32
2. Margus D. Morrison, 52
3. Andre Mackniel, 53
4. Aaron Salter, 55
5. Geraldine Talley, 62
6. Celestine Chaney, 65
7. Heyward Patterson, 67
8. Katherine Massey, 72
9. Pearl Young, 77
10. Ruth Whitfield, 86*Zaire Goodman, 20, was treated and released from hospital, Jennifer Warrington, 50, was treated and released from hospital, and Christopher Braden, 55, had non-life-threatening injuries.Uvalde, TX Victims
1. Eva Mireles, 44
2. Irma Garcia, 48
3. Uziyah Garcia, 10
4. Xavier Lopez, 10
5. Eliahna Cruz Torres, 10
6. Jose Flores, 10
7. Jailah Silguero, 10
8. Layla Salazar, 11
9. Jayce Luevanos, 10
10. Amerie Jo Garza, 10
11. Alithia Ramirez, 10
12. Tess Mata, 10
13. Alexandria "Lexi" Rubio, 10
14. Makenna Lee Elrod, 10
15. Nevaeh Bravo, 10
16. Eliahna 'Ellie' Garcia, 10
17. Rojelio Torres, 10
18. Maite Rodríguez, 10
19. Jacklyn Cazares, 9
20. Maranda Mathis
21. Annabell Rodriguez, 10*Every student, staff, faculty, and family member who was present on May 24, 2022 and traumatized by such tragedy.