My Dear Girl Scout Family,
“I’m so tired, that my tired… is tired.” That’s the phrase that I keep repeating to describe the feeling that pervades my days and nights lately. The past few weeks have been horrible to say the least. We have borne witness to the tragedy of a global pandemic coming to our very doorstep, and now to the injustice perpetuated in Minneapolis and resulting outrage reverberating across our nation. As if the impact of COVID-19 on our communities was not debilitating enough, we now sit in our homes and watch in horror, the senseless loss of life and intense suffering caused by systemic racism.
2020 has tested us all in more ways than we could ever have imagined, and as we continue to witness all of the pain and intense grief across the nation, our hearts are breaking. The tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, in Glynn County, Georgia; Breonna Taylor, in Louisville, Kentucky; and George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota are especially difficult for African American families and communities of color.
While it is little consolation, we extend our deepest condolences and prayers of comfort to the Floyd, Taylor, and Arbery families. We also acknowledge the sad reality that those are just the latest in a long list of names. Countless other men, women, and children have lost their lives, or suffered injury or indignity at the hands of oppression that has treated black and brown people as less than, just because of the color of their skin.
Like many of you, I have had difficult conversations with my children regarding these tragic times. My daughter finally asked me last night, “Why are you so tired–and what specifically are you so tired of?” While it is not easy to explain, it was necessary for me to tell her:
- I’m tired of the police brutality in the black community that keeps happening over and over.
- I’m tired that justice has not been served and that perpetrators walk free…again.
- I’m tired of having to extend sympathies to families who have lost loved ones way too early in life.
- I’m tired of having to decode veiled racist statements or undercover comments meant to undermine others.
- I’m tired of justifying my outrage.
- I’m tired of people not understanding why I’m grieving and afraid.
- I’m tired of people believing that talk alone will foster racial equality and social justice for all.
- I’m tired of the silence–we know that the silence of good people allows evil to persist.
- I’m tired of having to explain the unfathomable to you–my children.
I have always been moved by the sentiment, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Though my mind, body, and soul may be tired, I know that as an African American woman, daughter, wife, mother, and community leader, I must live those words through my actions now, more than ever. I must push past the fatigue and stand–for this is how we can change the world and our future. I pledge to continue to model leadership, respect, and to also speak out against injustice. I am committed to being a voice for those who do not have the opportunity to be heard–especially our girls. In the last few days, I have been moved by text messages, images of solidarity, and posts from Girl Scouts and young people I know engaged in peaceful protest. Their message is clear… racism and hate have no place here.
As the premiere Girl Leadership development organization, we are called upon to promote, support, educate, and advocate for our girls every day. Our mission takes on even greater importance in times of crisis. For more than 100 years, we have prepared girls to be leaders in our world, to speak up, speak out, and take action for fairness, equality, civility, and compassion for all people, and to arm them with the courage, confidence, and character they need to make our world a better place. I’m proud to be a Girl Scout. I know that we will always stand for justice, for respect, and for the inherent value and worth of each individual who makes up the beautiful and richly diverse tapestry of the United States.
Girl Scouts have a collective responsibility to model and teach respect for one another, to speak out against injustice and to provide a safe space where all girls are heard and are valued. To all those in our Heart of NJ family who have faced racism in the eye, we see you. We hear you. We respect you. Together, we stand against racism.
While it was highly emotional, our council staff came together to discuss ways we could take action in support of our community during this time. We are channeling our feelings to lead meaningful changes in our families, our communities, and our world. You can show your commitment to standing in solidarity with GSHNJ by displaying this printable image
in your window. And if you’re feeling creative, you have the option for coloring your own
At Girl Scouts, we seek to instill in girls the fundamental values of respect for all, inclusivity, equity, and the belief that injustice anywhere is a slight to justice everywhere. While we acknowledge that it is important to process the intense grief we are feeling today, please know that we will focus with intense purpose on the work of bringing about the change the world so desperately needs.
In solidarity and in service,
Natasha Hemmings | Chief Executive Officer