On Returning

June 30, 2020
On Returning

Dear Friends,

These are hard times. We hope you are staying safe and healthy and finding care and strength in your communities.

I am returning to work after reducing my hours during the stay-at-home order. With guidance from our Board, collaborators, and advisors, we are finding a path that we hope moves our work forward with renewed intention and care. I am feeling particularly grateful for the powerful storytellers of today - Ava DuVernay, Resmaa Menakem, and Bryan Stevenson, to name just a few - who are doing the imperative and courageous work of naming, contextualizing, and framing white supremacy in new and urgent ways.

In an interview Rev. Lucas Johnson shortly after the murder of George Floyd, Rev. Johnson reminds us that framing matters, deeply: "...the way that we look at what’s happening right now, and the context that we put it in, matters. If we were treating the United States as though it were a country that just emerged on the other side of a ceasefire after a decades-old civil war, then we would be talking about rebuilding a society. We would decommission the police forces and the institutions that were involved in human rights atrocities. We would talk about what institutions need to be built that can regain the public trust. We would envision what it would take to build this country that has not yet been.

And I think that’s the scale on which we need to be imagining. We keep trying to put band-aids on something that is so fundamentally broken, from inception, that a band-aid is not going to do it. We have to be brave enough to reimagine what our lives would look like. We can’t underestimate the entrenched power of the structures and the systems that we’ve built to move us in a certain direction, a certain dehumanizing direction. We have to ask ourselves in bold ways, what does it mean for us to be community to each other?" (from June 3, 2020 Interview on On Being)

How can we grow our collective narrative based on these truths? What is our role as a white-led organization in this work? As we find our place in this reframed landscape, we remain committed to serving as a platform that joins with others to ask bold questions and to honor our stories and to actively center a story that is grounded in truth, reconciliation, and mutual care. Because we need new stories about what it means to live together as Americans. It's a human rights imperative.


Elaine Vradenburgh
Founder + Curator