In some ways, it feels like everything has changed since the pandemic hit Maryland. At HASA, our brick and mortar school became a virtual program, our state-of-the-art clinic was abandoned for curbside services and teletherapy, and face-to-face sign language services were replaced with screen-based services. One thing that has not changed during the pandemic is the violence, injustice, and inhumanity experienced by Black Americans.
In the past weeks, we have learned about the murder Amhaud Abrey, witnessed the abuse of Amy Cooper, and were horrified by the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor- just to name the stories that made it to the news. To react, people put on sneakers and ran with Amhaud and changed profile pictures for #BlackOutTuesday on social media. But meaningful social change will only happen when Black communities are empowered, elevated, celebrated, and honored. The work will be done when it is safe to be sleeping in your own bed or be running, birdwatching, or driving if you are Black in America. The status quo cannot continue. Racist practices cannot continue. White communities must commit to reading, listening, supporting, watching, and understanding how we got here- history matters. Simultaneously, White people must unpack and unlearn behaviors and thought patterns in order to become anti-racist.
HASA is committed to having uncomfortable conversations internally. HASA is committed to being bold and creating an equity, access, and inclusion space that is different than the one in which we usually operate. We ask our community to vote during this vital election cycle, donate money to anti-racism efforts, and demand justice for victims and their families. Our narrative since the pandemic began has been “everything changed” but that we were still a relevant, healthy, impactful nonprofit ready to serve the Baltimore community. Now, we will shift the narrative to be “not enough has changed” as evidenced by the current manifestations of anger, fear, and violence but we are committed to doing more and doing better. As an organization, we will not be silent. Words matter. Language matters. Communication matters. Black lives matter.