The disgraceful murders of Ahmaud Arbery and, more recently, of George Floyd have spurred nationwide protests against decades of unnecessary repression and violence against people of color. This is leading to long-overdue discussions about race and racism. Personally, it has spurred many conversations with my friends and family and made me think more about the issues of race and where we are as a country.
This process of reflection has brought to mind a quote that I heard once a long time ago from the poet Oliver Goldsmith: “You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips”. This quote can, of course, have many meanings to people depending on interpretation. It has relevance to me given current events. The takeaway for me is that it’s not as much about what we say, but what we do that really matters.
Many organizations across the country are conveying support to the black community. This is a good thing. In thinking about how this organization should respond, I keep coming back to the meaning of the quote. It is not what the NWA says, it’s about what we can do as an association.
The NWA was founded on the premise of inclusion and has taken major strides over the last few years to improve our diversity and inclusion. This has culminated in a series of activities that have brought difficult conversations forward. It has allowed our members to grow personally and professionally. Many of these conversations were needed and we rose to meet that challenge.
So today presents us with another challenge. While we want to convey support to our black members and black people across the country, we also want to do more. We want to act.
I and the NWA Board have made a decision to form an ad hoc team for the purpose of addressing race and race relations. This team will be responsible for developing a plan for a series of activities that will give our members a space to learn, dialog, and grow professionally and personally. Obviously the details will be forthcoming as the team does its work. However, there are already a few good ideas being discussed as a starting point for the team. I am excited to see what the team will come up with.
I have asked Board Member Tyra Brown Harris to lead this team. Aside from being an outstanding leader Tyra has many great ideas that can help us with this journey. I am enormously grateful for her willingness to take up this task. She will be forming this team in the coming weeks and getting started thereafter. They will have the full and unwavering support of NWA Headquarters and the Board. Feel free to contact Tyra at tyra.brown (at) nwas.org.
This Association is going to “preach a better sermon” by acting to start conversations and activities that lead to meaningful change. I hope you will join the efforts and participate in the activities that are to come. Until then take care of yourself and each other.
— Todd Lericos, NWA President