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Processing Rage, Actionizing Support: An Open Letter to the FLY Community

Dear FLY Family,

Throughout my personal crusade for justice (and my journey into adulthood, too), I’ve often had to remind myself of this very famous quote by one of the great thinkers of all time. It is how I have allowed my rage and my passion for this work to fuel my efforts without feeling like I have to apologize for it—for being an “angry black man.” To that end, I am sharing it with you all in hopes that it helps you find some validation in your feelings, whether they may be a sense of sadness, frustration—or rage.   

Speaking as an angry black man, I want to thank you all for extending grace and allowing me space to process my own feelings before offering an authentic but measured perspective that hopefully will provide some grounding. 

It feels like, for this moment, we are suspending the reality that we are sheltering in place to stem the tide of a health pandemic. The injustices to Ahmaud ArberyChristian CooperGeorge Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade are a painful reminder that deep-seated racism is a more immediate threat to many of us.  And this has stoked a fire of rage that has sparked action across the country. 

Painfully, these are but a few high-profile incidents among many that contextualize the everyday existence of black people in America, which are connected to a long history of racial injustice and using law enforcement (and the justice system) as an instrument of that injustice, dating back to slavery.  So, for us, as crusaders of justice (and particularly for the people of color among us in close proximity to this threat), this is a tough moment. 

Know that I write this with a heart full of rage, and a fire that will continue to fuel me for this next crusade for justice. And know that I write with a deep desire to walk alongside the FLY Family as you process your feelings, and my hope is that we do so in ways that keep us safe and able to fight the long war against racism—despite the heat of the moment in today’s battle. Please take solace in knowing that our work at FLY is a critical part of a continuum of efforts to advance justice and right wrongs that lead to incidents like these, and that we are in this together.

In closing, I want to remind us that the instruments of injustice are consistent if nothing else. They are oppression, fear, and division. We must recognize when they are being deployed and be conscious to not fall victim to them so that we can stay the course.

As always, thank you for your support, your leadership, and your commitment to our mission, our young people, our communities, and each other.

In Deep Partnership,