Net Impact, Racial Equity, Social Justice in This Time and Place
June 1, 2020
Dear Net Impact Community,
2020 has challenged us in ways we could not have imagined. COVID-19 has secluded us. The economic downturn has been disastrous to many. While we know that those who have the least to lose, are often most impacted during crisis, the issues of inequity and injustice are clearly front and center. And now, we are again reminded of the stark inequities with the murder of George Floyd. We have all witnessed the horrifying news of the last few weeks, and history has taught us these are not isolated incidents. Rather, this is due to systemic and institutional racism. As sustainability and social impact leaders, we know that silence is not an option when faced with inequity and social injustice. We have an obligation to stand up for what is right, in this time and place, or there will be no change.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once asked the question, “what is it America has failed to hear?’” That was in April 1967.
It would appear much of America is still not listening as 155 years in America, of largely silent and civil protest has yielded just incremental change. The failing to listen, the failure to make a just life for all Americans is a call to action of all Americans, particularly those of us who do not fear jogging in the suburbs, bird watching in the park, or who haven't had the ’talk’ with parents about making eye contact with police and keeping your hands visible. It is part of our duty as citizens, part of our history and culture to act - every one of us, how we can, in this time and place.
As we Reimagine Capitalism, business as a force for good, all stakeholders - employees, community, consumers, shareholders, all of us voters, human participants in our own outcomes, let’s drive change. As we think about system design change of Democracy too – let’s work toward movement focused on the marginalized, as the center will find its way. We will increasingly incorporate civic engagement, social justice and racial equity into our work and raise public consciousness on these matters. We aren’t activist – we activate activism in our community, over 150,000 members strong, over half a million in the 28 years we’ve sought to inspire, equip and motivate our network of leaders to drive a just and sustainable world.
I am hopeful, and hope that you can be hopeful too in these bad times. We do important work at Net Impact. With our work, we reach a network that is a powerful community that chooses to self-identify as seeking a just and sustainable world. These times may make you feel like Sisyphus pushing a rock up the hill, just to have it fall back to the bottom as we approach the peak. I think it’s more like the “asymptotic” math principal - you can't achieve perfection (get the rock to the peak, achieve true racial equity/harmony) but you/we can approach it. Individuals can make a difference, together we can hasten change. As historian Howard Zinn said, living “in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
So do what you can, what you feel capable of, what is necessary. Let’s be ‘whole people’, making a difference however/wherever we can. I want you to know that this organization has your back; I have your back too. I know this is difficult for our members, staff, our friends, families, partners and communities. We are here to support each other, but we are also here to fight the good fight.
If not us, who? If not now, when?
Peter M. Lupoff
Chief Executive Officer