MMA Executive Director & CEO Geoff Beckwith has issued the following statement addressing the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the unrest that has followed – and the opportunity to confront racism and deconstruct the systems that perpetuate discrimination.

Confronting Racism, Working for Change, Honoring Our Anger

Protesters gather in front of the State House on Sunday evening. (Photo courtesy Chris Van Buskirk/State House News Service)

Dear MMA Members and Friends,

First, I want to say I wish I had posted this earlier. I’ve struggled to find the “right” words to share with all of you, because I’ve been struggling, dancing between rage, horror, disgust and hope. Instead of wordsmithing, I should have spoken up immediately, because I know that you’ve been struggling as well.

America is confronted once again by the ugly truth that deep systemic racism persists throughout our society and economy. The brutal killing of George Floyd has triggered anger, anguish and unrest, igniting calls for change that are sweeping the nation. After years of similar killings, it now seems that enough is enough, as hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters have gathered over the past week, demanding recognition, demanding change, demanding a different future. A small number of these demonstrations have become confrontational, and a few have been so outraged as to commit violence and damage property. This is regrettable and wrong, yet this should not allow us to be diverted from the overwhelming actions of ordinary citizens from all walks of life, crossing generations, races and economic status. It is vital – essential – that we truly listen to these voices, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable that may be.

Personally, I am deeply angry, sad and pained. I am angry that the racism that was present during the founding of our nation has continued for 400 years and firmly embedded itself in and stained America. It has become so easy for white Americans to look the other way and discount this reality. It has become so easy to manufacture excuses to explain away the stark economic, health and social disparities that permeate our country, our state, and our communities. I am sad that it has taken the killing of black men and women at the hands of police officers to rattle America’s – and our – conscience. I am pained by the loss of safety, health and opportunity that is all around us, and pained by the divisions in society that have made dialogue on race so charged and difficult.

I am sure that you are experiencing anger, unhappiness, sadness, frustration as well. Let’s find a way to talk openly about this. I am open to your suggestions. Above all, I want the MMA to be a place where every person on our staff, every member who participates in our programs, feels truly safe, equal, respected, valued and protected. And I want the MMA to be a place that celebrates and expands our diversity and inclusion. Let’s be purposeful in making that happen together.

When I started this message, I said that I’m feeling hopeful in the middle of my anguish. That’s because I think the MMA has an important role to play in making sure that this moment is not a lost opportunity, and that we can inspire and guide our communities to lead efforts to confront racism and deconstruct the systems that perpetuate discrimination and violence against black and brown people. I have some ideas, and I’m sure you and your colleagues will have many more. This is an important journey – the most important of our lifetime. Let’s take it together.

With deep respect,

Geoff Beckwith
Executive Director & CEO
gbeckwith@mma.org

P.S.: Earlier this week, the MMA shared a powerful message from Clarence Anthony, the executive director of our national partner organization, the National League of Cities, calling all communities to action and connecting you to resources from their Race, Equity And Leadership (REAL) program. I encourage you to visit www.nlc.org/program-initiative/race-equity-and-leadership-real to learn more. Thank you!