Dear GSEP Community:
This weekend we saw a massive collective response to systemic racism; I am not an expert but I do want to acknowledge these events and that we can, and must, talk about these issues and figure out together what we can do to be a part of the solution.
As you know the vision for Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania is to be known as the premier leadership organization for girls that is driven by an engaged community of volunteers, members, alumnae, partners, and staff, and supported by an organizational culture of service, learning, and growth. Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Our girls are compelled to act as empathetic problem-solvers, to introduce innovation where they see injustice. Girls are encouraged to discover more about themselves, connect with others and value the power of diversity, and to take action to make our world a better place.
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Chris Cooper - these names (plus so many more) and their stories, the racism and xenophobia towards people of color in the news, are painful reminders why we need to learn more about racism and work to become an antiracist organization. In the words of Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist: "We know how to be racist. We know how to pretend to be not racist. Now let's know how to be antiracist."
Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, in the spirit of service, learning, and growth, is committed to do this work. It is our responsibility - being antiracist is essential to our mission to make the world a better place for all people.
Our community, our family of Girl Scouts is very diverse, and everyone is hurting right now. Some of us are hurting because every day of our lives is spent in fear for our families and our children in the realization that some people hold hate in their hearts because we are black. Still others feel guilt and outrage that hate still exists in this country because of the color of someone’s skin. Still others feel scared because our communities are literally burning down. Others are desperate to understand how to help, and how to speak with their children about what is going on. Many of us are just waking up to what we haven’t been doing for years, despite holding no hate in our hearts. Many have a mix of all these emotions and many more. We are in this together. Everyone has a voice. Everyone has feelings. Everyone has a place in Girl Scouts.
The GSEP staff team created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee a couple years ago to help take the work we have started doing on cultural bias and diversity training and make sure it becomes part of the fabric of our organization. We realize, even more through these events, how important this work is…and how much more work we need to do. We will be spending time educating ourselves, sharing resources with our greater GSEP community, e.g., ways to talk with your children about race, training and education resources for volunteers, ways to contribute to causes supporting this work, petitions to sign to make sure our representatives understand what is important to us.
We will be creating a Racial Justice webpage on our website in the coming days where you will find ready to run programs, tools from the Girl Scout Research Institute’s Raising Awesome Girls, older girl service projects that have been based in racial justice, and many more resources for education and advocacy. We will look at the best ways for our GSEP Community to come together to talk about this important work, and hopefully create additional programs, trainings, and resources for all of us.
Thank you for your sisterhood, for your love, and for your dedication to building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.
Yours in Girl Scouting,
CEO, Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania