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Note to the Hanna Community

June 11, 2020

Dear Hanna Community

We are outraged and mourning the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police whose job should be to serve and protect. This terrible act illustrates once again that we are not all equal under the law, and that service and protection is not distributed evenly.

As a community of faith, we pray for Mr. Floyd and his family, and for all victims of anti-black racism and police brutality who are mistreated and killed for the color of their skin. Now more than ever, we must look at the mission of Hanna Boys Center as an instrument for societal change through the youth, families and communities that we aim to serve. We are called to act with justice and stand in solidarity with Black communities as an anti-racist institution.

Make no mistake, Black Lives Matter.

These last couple of weeks have further illustrated that racism is alive and widespread today. Our black students, families, colleagues and communities are living with this, shouldering it and they are exhausted. Kareem Abdul Jabbar recently wrote, “Racism is like dust – it’s fine and you can’t see it until you shine a light on it.” The light is shining brightly right now. We can’t let it dim again nor place the burden of stoking the flame on Black communities alone.

So how do we do that? At Hanna, we have referred back to our beacon, our Guiding Principles, which begin: “Hanna is an organization rooted in faith and the belief that all people are entitled to love, connection, dignity, respect and compassion regardless of their history, background or abilities.” The murder of George Floyd and the demonstrations that have subsequently unfolded have begun an internal “gut check” at Hanna. Have we always, honestly and authentically, stood behind these words that we espouse in our Guiding Principles?

Like every institution in America, we are far from perfect. We have a lot to learn and we have much work to do. We have begun acting with more intentionality to stand behind beside our Guiding Principles by educating ourselves and everyone who will listen about white privilege, white supremacy, systemic racism and implicit bias. We are going to challenge beliefs – beliefs of staff on campus, of our donors, of our community and of our country – beliefs that are the foundation of racism.

We can’t let this time pass without making change and cleaning up the dust in our own house. This is not just a police problem; this is an American problem. To paraphrase a great peacemaker, we hope to be the change we want to see in the world, and we know that this will be an ongoing process as we strive to live up to our Guiding Principles.

We hope that by sharing information, learning and listening, we will start conversations that need to happen. We’re doing this work with our staff and students in our residential program; we will also do this work out in the community through the Hanna Institute. We will not be silent.

We hope you will join us in undertaking difficult conversations that will bring forth a reconciliation that will transform injustice and pain into love, equity and unity.

As one,