In the United States, we are still grappling – in ways large and small – with the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow and the scourge of racism. And around the world, millions of people are treated differently, every day, because of their race, ethnicity, tribe, or background. In many places, discrimination and racism have deep roots, and have led to structural inequalities that continue to have far-reaching consequences in our societies.
Bridging these divides will require more than concrete policies to address the impact of prejudice and racial discrimination. It will require each of us – in our workplaces, our community spaces, our politics, our places of worship, and in a million daily interactions – to understand each other’s realities, as well as our own unspoken attitudes.
At the Obama Foundation, our goal is to build a powerful network of emerging leaders who can drive inclusive change in their communities – in the U.S. and around the world. As part of this, we are committed to addressing the roles that systemic racism and gender discrimination play in holding community problems in place and preventing marginalized people from becoming leaders.
At the same time, we are also focused on the necessary work to improve our own understanding, attitudes, and practices of anti-racism and equity. Because if we want to help combat racism and inequity in the communities we serve, we need to lead by example.
That’s why our goal is to make sure every member of the Foundation team is committed to anti-racism, sets expectations for how we will engage, and makes space for the work. We’re focused on making sure our actions match our intent – removing barriers for diverse vendors, building anti-racism and equity into our hiring practices, and recruiting diverse cohorts for our leadership programs. We also want to be strong partners, working with members of the predominantly Black community that is our home, and the future home of the OPC. Finally, we understand the importance of measuring our impact. As an organization, we will hold ourselves accountable with humility, acknowledging that we won’t get this right all at once, and that success will require sustained commitment, training, learning, and adjustment.
In all of this, we will celebrate progress and be honest about where we fall short. And we will continue to try to see more of ourselves in one another – sharing stories, welcoming diverse perspectives, and reaching out across lines of apparent difference.