If you are not ok...you are not alone

June 2nd, 2020

Dearest EBF Family,

George Floyd.

Breonna Taylor.

Ahmaud Arbery.

I say their names out loud. Every day. Like a mantra. I repeatedly say their names as the country mourns their deaths and the deaths of countless others.

I do not know about you - but I am not ok. I AM NOT OK. What is happening around us - is not ok. We need to lean on each other now more than ever. We need to invoke the spirit of our ancestors and ask them for guidance and wisdom as we navigate through these troubled waters. My last note to you all was acknowledging COVID-19’s impact on the foundation and telling you all we would be just fine - knowing we would be back to business as usual in no time. How incorrect I was. What’s even crazier is that while we are still actively dealing with this horrible, life-altering pandemic - halt! - now we must add a thick layer of pain and distrust as it relates to America’s outright systemic, racist ideologies and practices which have been rooted in hate and driven by inequity going back to our forefathers’ forefathers‘ years. Facts: at an alarming rate, too many POC have died from COVID-19 and the world was shocked and appalled. However, racism, including these barbaric acts of police brutality, has been killing black people throughout the history of blacks being in America. Why hasn’t that garnered the same reaction? Why isn’t everyone shocked and appalled by that? I implore you all to sit with that reality for a moment...

Racist practices have been in full effect since 1619, if not earlier. Racism continues to be a leech - sucking the very energy out of our people, our community and our world. Please believe it is a choice. We all have a choice. To be or not to be. It really is just that simple. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not. Racist behaviors are learned - which means they can be unlearned. We need all the support we can get from non-black friends, colleagues and family members. We need you to speak up, show up and show out. We need to immediately get behind the ideal of country over party. This is not the time for identifying as a Democrat, Republican or whatever - we need to raise our American flag and act like we are all country over party! We need to seriously refocus our lens and put our money and vote where our mouths are. We cannot sit idle while there is work to be done. 

I do not profess to have all the answers; truth be told, I do not even know all the questions to ask. This is all so overwhelming and I am tired. I am tired of being tired. I know you are too. What I do know for sure is that we have to be fearless. Why? Because that is what Emma would have wanted. We must continue to lift each other up as we climb and know that we are a part of a growing and dynamic community of Emmas that will not be told no and will no longer tolerate feeling lesser than. We will continue to comfort and heal each other knowing we are all hurting. It is in the healing, caring, and loving that we will course correct and shift the world...not overnight but with one soul at a time.

My commitment to you is to listen. My commitment to you is to offer up my time, my love and my relentless positive energy as we march right through these troubled waters - holding our heads up high. Why? Because that is what Emma would have told us to do. Period. 

Though I may be tired and worn, I can still muster up the strength and courage to carry my fellow brothers and sisters and implore you to do the same. We must. I am asking this of you to future-proof our very existence. 

With steadfast love and affection,

Nikki A. Bethel
Interim CEO & President 
Emma Bowen Foundation

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