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Racial Equity


Dear BUILD Family,


My heart was ablaze this weekend with the anger and anguish of living in a nation where systems, mindsets, and practices of racism are a death sentence for many Black Americans. The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor gunned down by police in her own home in Louisville; the senseless killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia; and the baseless accusations against an innocent Black man in New York’s Central Park – these are all brutal reminders that the horrors of racism cannot be erased by a virus.


Racism is itself a virus that has infected the DNA of our nation from its birth. The fight for equal justice, equal access and opportunity continues to plague America. The question now, in the midst of a pandemic, is how do we ReBUILD.


We understand the profound impact these events have on the emotional and psychological well-being of our students, families, and communities we serve, and we want to give BUILDers the space to share and to process their hurt and anger. BUILD is organizing a virtual Town Hall for  our students, staff and board members nationwide this week. This will be an important time for us to come together, share our grief and anger, and craft a vision for the future.


I appreciate the many staff and board members of all races who reached out to me over the weekend to express their sadness and solidarity in this moment. BUILD uniquely stands at the intersection of innovation, education, and community and as such we can play a pivotal role in helping to create a new narrative and driving changes that promote racial and economic equity. Indeed, one of our four Core Values at BUILD is to Promote Diversity and Social Action. We strive to create equity of voice, access, influence and power across lines of difference – both in and beyond BUILD, specifically for groups that have been historically denied social and economic justice. If we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the problem.”


To be silent is to be complicit. Let’s stand together against racial injustice. Let’s bridge communities that cut across racial and economic lines and build social capital to open doors to opportunity. Let’s encourage our students to keep pushing, to keep stretching, to keep growing. The power to change the world is within them and it starts now. Together we can ReBUILD America to ensure a brighter future for ALL.


Finally in closing, I’m sending love and light to my fellow Black men and women in the BUILD family and across the nation. I see you. I salute you.


In solidarity,


Ayele Shakur