Equity Amid Crisis

To the Pinellas County Community:

As we emerge from the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, we are again facing a centuries-old disease that has yet to be cured – racism.

In the wake of COVID-19, we shut down our lives and businesses while embracing technology, telecommuting, and innovation to stay afloat. However, for many marginalized communities, the ravages of the pandemic will be felt for too long after our return to more normal lives — for people of color, the aging, and people who are ineligible for government aid.

Pinellas Community Foundation (PCF) has been participating in the Tampa Bay Resiliency Fund with other community funders to provide support to nonprofits to not just survive in the wake of COVID-19, but to build resiliency. Disasters disproportionately impact marginalized communities — thus the collective focus of the Tampa Bay Resiliency Fund on populations made more vulnerable by race or socioeconomic status.

While collective efforts continue addressing equity in our community, everyone stands witness to the horrific events in Georgia and Minneapolis these past few weeks. Sadly, but in truth, these incidents call forward years of justified frustration and anger over oppression caused by racism. While I do not have the same lived experience of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, or the countless other lives that have been wrongfully taken, I can use my voice to say their names. I can use my voice to say how they died is wrong. I can say with conviction that racism should not be an American ideal but rather an affront to every person who values freedom.

We have a long way to go; but standing still, paralyzed by the events of the last few weeks, won’t get us there. While a cure or vaccine for the novel coronavirus may be in the future, we already have the tools we need to develop the antidote to racism. We know the problem, we have the ability, and now is the time. It’s not going to be a one-shot vaccine that rids us of our dark history, but the compound effect of inoculation after inoculation. We look forward to maintaining an open table for dialogue, funding for solutions, and responsibly using our voice until there really is liberty and justice, for all.

Signature of Duggan Cooley.
Duggan Cooley