America is facing two major crises today – COVID-19 and racism.
This current global pandemic has lifted the mask on society and made the invisible visible – the complete interconnectedness of our social, human health, environmental, and economic systems. Although deeply interconnected, the threads that hold our societies together are weak because we have built power, economies, cultures, communities, and systems on foundations of injustice and inequality. The coronavirus has disproportionately impacted people of color, especially black people, due to these inequities and social determinants of health.
Black Americans literally cannot breathe from the nonstop and repeated brutality, oppression, and ignorance they face every single day; and the mask on racism has been lifted for all Americans to see. Racism is not new, but we now have more ways of seeing the terrible reality that is causing unimaginable pain, trauma, sadness, heartache, and loss of life and loved ones every single day. This cannot continue.
At GBA, we stand with the black community in solidarity against all forms of racial injustice and inequity. We see you. We hear you. We love you. We stand with you.
Social equity is a value that we use as a lens to do our work. However, we can and will do better to center equity in everything we do.
The built environment is a physical manifestation of our values as a society. The zip code where one lives is one of the strongest determinants of opportunity, quality of life, and life expectancy. Everything from the health of the air we breathe, to the water we drink, to the health and affordability of our homes, access to healthy food, access to quality education and healthy schools, opportunities for meaningful work and business growth, and the beauty and livability of our neighborhoods and communities is determined by how we as a society value, love, and invest in the people in these communities. Through our relationships, partnerships, opportunities, and policies, GBA is committing to a stronger equity and anti-racism platform to create and build our world so that all people thrive.
This work begins with us – all of us. Our team at GBA will begin by doing the deeper, internal work of what it means to be anti-racist in who we are and how we show up for our black friends, partners, coworkers, leaders, and the entire black community. We will continue to build upon the foundation of advancing equity through our programs and partnerships and reinforce this as a core value in all we do. To our broad and diverse community, I hope you will join us.
In March 2014, Bob Berkebile engaged an Inspire Speakers Series audience around the idea of 2020 – a year when we will have perfect vision. A vision that truly realized positive environmental, social, and economic impact everywhere and for everyone. I have dreamed about 2020 since then. Instead, the world feels like it is falling apart. And it is – but it is also breaking open for real change. Maybe this is the perfect vision we all need to recognize the inequality and racial injustice of this world and finally rebuild our places, communities, systems and societies in a way that prioritizes black people and communities of color and advances environmental, social, and economic justice.
Let us come together as a community to open our eyes and see the perfect vision of the world today so that we can create a better future.
On behalf of Green Building Alliance,