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Message from the Executive Director

Dear Friends,

I cannot express how heartbroken I’ve been feeling over the past week as an American. It’s a pain I’m sure you share with me. Then there’s the pandemic. Working as a nonprofit service provider through COVID-19 has me depleted. Finding a path forward is a challenge amidst the chaos unfolding across the country. Yet I can still find hope in the struggle of my daily work. Having a firm understanding that the core work of ROOTS has always been in changing the (food) system – and knowing that systems do not change without significant struggle and slow progress. It’s no different than the work being doing by social justice organizations trying to dismantle the many inequities that cause senseless killings of so many people of color (PoC).

I’m writing today to let you know that we can do better as an organization to ensure racial equity is embedded in our core mission and the work we do. We are predominately a white led organization and have failed in our effort to ensure PoC are represented in our leadership. We need to do better. My commitment to you is as follows;

·        I’m working with the ROOTS Board of Directors to develop a public pledge naming our commitment to racial equity and the adoption of anti-racism policies.

·        ROOTS publicly supports Black Lives Matter & the end of Police Brutality. We support the people and organizations that support this cause. We will work to listen and amplify the voice of minorities in our community. We will name racist policies and actions when we see them.

·        We will recruit PoC for representation on our Board of Directors.

·        We will recruit minority led organizations to train and educate our staff and youth in social justice reform.

I also want to hear from you. What else can we do to hold ourselves accountable? I’m starting today by asking our donors to contribute to organizations that lift up our black and brown community. This list of anti-racism organizations is a good list to consider.

I can’t help but think of the additional trauma this social unrest is causing on the children and youth who have already suffered through the isolating impact of quarantine. As we continue to mourn the death, the murder, of George Floyd, I wonder how we collectively begin the process of healing. I wonder how and if our schools will be reopening this fall. What does the healing process look like for our country? It’s unclear. What is clear is that we cannot heal without a call to justice, without policy changes locally and nationally, and without a unified commitment to dismantle white supremacy which is so deeply embedded into the fabric of American life.

Be well my friends and please take care of one another. And I will not waiver in my promise to you.

In Solidarity,

Joey Listro
Executive Director

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Photo: Call for Justice March New Britain Courthouse