“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Dear Girl Scout family,
My heart is heavy and words feel utterly inadequate to address the injustice and inequality in the United States that has changed little since the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, in 1968. My heart hurts for our girls, staff, volunteers, and board members of color and their families that are once again bearing witness to the dehumanization and systemic racism faced by Black people, and other communities of color. The unnecessary deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor as well as the widespread rioting taking place across the U.S., is heartbreaking and has been difficult for me to witness and to process.
I want to believe that all of us are impacted deeply and I recognize that many of you have undigested trauma and that you are doing your best to process what is happening. Please take the time, make the space to process what you are feeling, what you are moving through.
What I know to be true is that it is not enough to feel heartsick, or to think that things must change. We must first recognize that racism permeates American society and infects us all, including this organization that we love, Girl Scouts. As the Racial Equity Institute puts it, racism is in the groundwater of America, and we have all been drinking from it for centuries. Every one of us must be actively, vocally, tirelessly working to root out and eliminate racism within ourselves, our organizations, our communities, and our world. Quoting the words of writer and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, who said, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Love for each other in the glory of all our differences must win if we are to move forward as a nation.
What I also know to be true is that leadership and leading forward with love matters! As leaders, we must intentionally seek out to build connections with those that are most different from ourselves. We must model equality, equity, wonder, joy, and curiosity. When we lead with love, we embrace our own vulnerability, openly acknowledge our imperfections, and share how these allow us to learn and to grow. And that we build a culture where tough love discussions can happen that build ever deeper connections throughout our organization.
Additionally, this is the reason I came back to Girl Scouting. To fiercely lead with love forward an organization that I believe in. I am so proud to serve an organization that builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place; an organization that is building the next generation of female leadership. In a recent message from GSUSA CEO, Slyvia Acevedo she said, “At Girl Scouts, we seek to instill in girls the fundamental values of respect for all, inclusivity, equality, and the belief that injustice anywhere is a slight to justice everywhere.
For more than 100 years, we have prepared girls to be leaders in our world, to speak up, speak out, and take action for fairness, equality, civility, and compassion for all people, and to help equip them with courage, confidence, and character they need to make our world a better place. Girl Scouts will always stand for justice, for respect, and for the inherent value and worth of each individual who makes up the beautiful and richly diverse tapestry of the United States.” However, we all know we must do better, Girl Scouts must do better! We must leave no girl behind. Girls from all different backgrounds make up our Girl Scout family and we must do everything in our power to reach them. And as organization that stands up for girls’ potential, we must stand firmly against forces that do them harm. Our girls of color deserve to grow up in a world that does not traffic in inequality, injustice, racism, cruelty, and inhumanity. History is once again presenting an opportunity for us to become better. This is a time for us to come together, to truly listen and learn from one another, and to embrace this moment to become better as an organization, a community, a state, and the nation we were meant to be.
Girl Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands, from my heart, you have my promise that I will continue to do everything in my power to foster a culture of love, trust, and inclusion at GSSC-MM where we all feel a sense of belonging, where all voices are heard, and where we feel safe being our authentic selves every day.
With Immense Gratitude and Love,
We have several resources in the Civic Action for Girls section of the GSUSA website that girls can use now to take action to right the wrongs they identify in their communities. GSUSA is also working on additional resources, including a Raising Awesome Girls article to address the racism girls are facing today. And, please check out the GoodNewspaper for available outside resources.