In Solidarity June 5, 2020
Black Lives Matter.
We at The Collins Foundation are devastated by the callous murder of George Floyd. We also call to mind Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Stephon Clark, Tanisha Anderson, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, and countless others who have been killed at the hands of the police and others in the recent past and throughout our country’s history. We deeply oppose the systemic racism that pervades Oregon and our country at large. It has resulted in violence against, and lack of justice and opportunity for so many in the Black community. We are all morally diminished and ethically complicit when we allow people to be dehumanized and treated with disregard and cruelty.
Progress towards racial equity has been far too slow. Looking back 50 years to the Civil Rights era, our society is still confronting the same problems of structural racisim, discrimination, and police brutality. It is imperative that we change the systems of oppression that advance some at the expense of others. We must work with determination to achieve a truly just society. Not only is it our moral responsibility, but a truly free and just society is the ultimate aspiration of our democracy.
To all who march, both recently and throughout our history, we are grateful. Our First Amendment guarantees the “right of the people peaceably to assemble” and we stand with those protesting for equity, justice, and systemic change. It has always been those with the bravery and conviction to stand up and put themselves in harm’s way who lead us toward a just and peaceful society.
We confront myriad problems with COVID-19 threatening all of our lives, and disproportionately, the lives of people of color; we face tremendous economic uncertainty, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Great Depression; and we confront alarming political and societal division. Yet, even during these troubling times, we look to Martin Luther King, Jr., who wrote in Letter from a Birmingham Jail:
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed... For years now I have heard the word "Wait!”.... This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see... that “justice too long delayed is justice denied."
We at the Foundation are determined to harness our outrage and use that energy and the Foundation’s financial resources to drive and fund programs, initiatives, and collaboratives that will help nonprofits in our state find ways to finally turn the tide against systemic racism. We are going to keep the memories of what happened to Mr. Floyd and so many others in our hearts as we renew our commitment to support the strengths of Black and Brown communities, and ensure that Foundation resources prioritize nonprofits that have demonstrated their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion by having boards, executives, staff, and advisors who mirror the communities they serve. We recognize the need to advance systems change, and are committed to ensuring that the perspectives of those most impacted by curent systems are at the center of this work.
Cynthia Addams, Jaime Arredondo, Truman Collins, Serena Cruz, Leann Do, Cindy Knowles, Ryan Luria, Cheryl Montoya, Jackie Murphy, Kimberlee Pierce Sheng, Cherida Collins Smith, Tonisha Toler, Lee Diane Collins Vest, Marlena Willette, Sara Yada
These events have led us to do more research, reading, and sharing, acknowledging that we still have much to learn about injustice and anti-blackness. We’d like to share some relevant articles and links:
- Research from the Coalition of Communities of Color
- Who Gets to Be Afraid in America - Ibram Kendi
- Opinion piece written by Kareem Abdul-Jabar
- Nick Cannon “I Can’t Breathe” video (explicit language used throughout):
- Freedom poem - Langston Hughes
- The American Nightmare - Ibram Kendi
- The World is on Fire: Artists Respond to the Protests
Our Mission toward an Equitable Future
Formed in 1947 by Truman W. Collins Sr. and other members of the family of E.S. Collins, The Collins Foundation invests in Oregon nonprofit organizations, both rural and urban, that are dedicated to improving quality of life and well-being for the people in their communities. As a funder and partner, we are committed to the pursuit of equity, both in how we allocate resources across Oregon’s diverse communities and how we shape our internal structures.
Our Vision for Oregon
We want the state of Oregon to be a place where all people have access to high quality, culturally responsible services in sectors such as health, social services, education, housing, and employment. We also envision vibrant neighborhoods and communities where residents enjoy access to healthy food; a rich variety of artistic and cultural expression; and the benefits of Oregon’s natural environment.
How we Understand Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- We welcome, and work to include, the multiple perspectives that diversity brings.
- We know that diversity and inclusion are essential to equity.
- We define equity as the practice and promotion of justice and the fostering of conditions necessary for all people to achieve their full potential.