June 4, 2020

Our Message to the Community: Taking a Stand Against Racial Injustice

To the Community:

Our hearts are heavy. The horrifying murder of George Floyd, along with other recent and continued acts of aggression against black people, are clear and vile injustices. Our board and staff stand firmly against these acts of violence, while also recognizing that they are symptoms of a much deeper problem that we must face as individuals, as an institution, and as a nation.

Not only are people of color targeted and unfairly discriminated against, but they are disproportionally affected across the board – in areas such as health, education, and wealth. These disparities cannot be denied and did not occur by accident. They are the direct result of centuries of laws, policies, and practices beginning with the removal of Indigenous peoples from their lands and the enslavement of Africans that have explicitly and implicitly deemed people of color as inferior, the effects of which are seen and felt today. While it is simple to say “I am not a racist,” it is much harder to address and dismantle the complex, built-in injustices of structural racism – and yet doing so is the only path forward.

The Winston-Salem Foundation is committed to centering the voices and lived experiences of people of color; we recognize that only by doing this can we improve outcomes for all. We know we have not always operated in this way, and we are committed to doing better and to serving as a stronger ally to our Black Philanthropy Initiative and to all our local communities of color.

Over the past three years, we have been working to develop and operationalize anti-racist values for the Foundation and to infuse a racial equity lens across all of our work. We acknowledge that we are not where we want to be as an organization, but we are committed to our racial equity journey now more than ever. Please hold us accountable as we pledge to learn more and to do better, both in our internal work as an organization, and within our community. People’s lives depend on our voice, your voice, all voices, speaking up at this critical moment, and for months and years to come, and we are committed to speaking out against the travesties that we witness.

This is a crucial moment in time, and our work will not waver going forward. We are fully committed to working with our community to rectify centuries of racial injustice and exploitation of our black and brown neighbors that we and so many others have inadvertently benefitted from. As a 100-year-old organization founded only 54 years after the abolishment of slavery, we have a moral and ethical responsibility to do so.

Scott Wierman, President

Randall Tuttle, Board Chair