“To look around the United States today is enough to make prophets and angels weep.”– James Baldwin, 1979
Nine minutes of video captured the murder of George Floyd and all the world could see his senseless, agonizing death. It’s shaken us to our core. We look at ourselves in the collective mirror, confront who we are as a nation, and find what we see troubling.
The extraordinary outpouring of pain, fear, and outrage on the streets of cities big and small is like nothing I’ve seen in my life. It’s an overdue time of reckoning as people across our nation demand that we live by our creed and truly provide ‘liberty and justice for all.’ It is very clear that for our black brothers and sisters, those words are a promise repeatedly, and too often violently, broken.
As a white woman, I will never know what it feels like to live in fear because of the color of my skin, or worry that the life of my white son will be brutally taken from him because of his race. I am left humbled as I try to comprehend in the depths of my soul, as best and imperfectly as I can, the rage and hurt that is at the very heart of what is unfolding on our streets.
I have to hope that out of this darkness will come the kind of profound societal change we need, to become the more perfect union our black citizens deserve, but I am enough of a realist to know that this outcome is far from guaranteed.
Marian Anderson, the great African American vocalist who passed away in 1993 at the age of 96, said: “No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger than its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.” Her words continue to ring true today. Our individual lives are inexorably linked. The responsibility for change rests with all of us, but particularly those who are privileged by the status quo.
Our organization is focused solely on helping marginalized African and Asian women receive life-transforming care. I believe in our mission completely and have dedicated decades of my life to it. With each surgery we provide, I know we are helping to change one woman’s world forever. But, I also know that we are treating a horrendous symptom of deeper and more ingrained problems – dire poverty and gender discrimination.
During this unprecedented and challenging time, your enduring compassion and commitment to dramatically improving the lives of women most of us will never meet gives me hope. Now more than ever, a generosity of spirit is needed to make the world a more just, loving, and peaceful place.
I am grateful every day to be a part of the Fistula Foundation community, comprising of so many ‘better angels’ like you – selfless donors, caring doctors, and a dedicated staff team. I appreciate very much the work you do to change the world, woman by woman.
I wanted to close by returning to the late singer Marian Anderson singing ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee’ on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday,1939. Though some said she was the greatest singer in a century, she was barred from performing in other venues in our nation’s capital because she was black. But, there she is with 75,000 people in front of her, and the statue of The Great Emancipator behind her, singing ‘let freedom ring.’
CEO, Fistula Foundation
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.