By Diane Kiddy, CEO

Good morning to all. Today, Friday June 19th, is Juneteenth. This year, there is greater awareness of this holiday among the general population whose attention has been focused on racial inequality more than ever before. It’s about time that we as a country fully acknowledge and act on identifying and rectifying racism in our institutions and throughout society as a whole. As protests continue in the U.S. and all across the globe calling for racial justice and accountability, it is noteworthy that the majority of protesters are young and as many are non-minority as are black and brown.

Last Friday, there was yet another killing of a black man, Rayshard Brooks, by police officers in Atlanta. Police brutality leading to countless murders of black men and women is not the only form of racism to be eradicated, albeit its pervasiveness is particularly alarming. Racism exists in every sector such as education, business, corrections, and in health care. The pandemic is producing hard statistics about the health disparities that exist and COVID affects African-Americans disproportionately; the number of COVID cases is higher among Hispanics as well.

Juneteenth was first celebrated in Texas, where on this date in 1865 the last remaining enslaved Africans were declared free under the Emancipation Proclamation issued two and a half years earlier.

As of fiscal year 2021 which begins July 1st, Juneteenth will be added to CVCA’s calendar of paid holidays. And today, in recognition of Juneteenth, there will be early dismissal at 12 noon or 1:00 pm, depending on the start of your work day, of all non-essential staff. For the large number of essential staff, you will have a half-day off with pay to take between now and the end of August as arranged with your supervisor.

We are all experiencing the acute stress of the prolonged pandemic along with economic consequences impacting those of color more than others. Then just weeks after George Floyd’s brutal death, Rayshard Brooks was killed. The outcry against these most recent horrific events has been sustained day after day by protestors who have had enough and are willing to risk their health with potential exposure to the virus in order to demand justice and overhaul of our systems. It is and continues to be inspiring to see this expanded movement take hold with such conviction and optimism that real change may be possible - that finally it may be the collective will of this country’s citizens with the rest of the world watching to end systemic racism.

On Juneteenth, let us reflect individually and together about what we can do now and ongoing, what we can do differently, at CVCA and everywhere to achieve diversity, inclusion and equity.

Sincerely, Diane Kiddy