Equity & Justice: Racism is a Public Health Crisis

To the MDYC community:

Metro Detroit Youth Clubs was outraged by the murder of George Floyd, and we continue to be outraged at the continued injustice too many of our families face day after day, year after year, century after century. As a Club, we cannot stay silent… we will not stay silent. We do not support the idea that these events have to be our normal. Not in this community, not in this country, not anywhere.

MDYC has proudly served youth across Metro Detroit since 1958. Tens of thousands of youth have passed through our doors, each member helping shape our Club just as much as we help shape them. We want to share some dialog we have had in recent days with some of our incredible teen members. Listen to their words, and join us in our mission to form a more perfect union.

It’s like a cycle. It’s never ending. This isn’t the first time, and it probably won’t be the last time if we don’t speak up and talk about it. And for me personally, having a little brother and three little cousins – all boys – it scares me to death. -JaMese

I have three sons – three young black men – and I was in tears. I fear for them. I think about them going to the store. And I’m like, remember if something happens, don’t say anything. It makes you react and feel a different way. -MDYC Mentor

Same thing over and over again. Why is this still happening? It really bothers me. I feel like our generation is going to end up being the one to grow up and help solve the problem because we need to solve it as soon as we can. -Andrea

It wasn’t as big of a thing back then because there weren’t video cameras to record, and it was much more hush hush, I guess. I’m sad this stuff is happening, but I’m glad it’s coming out and people are learning what’s happening and how to stop it from happening again and how to further America past racism. -Natalie

While our guiding light is to listen to those around us and learn and inspire, we also will be there alongside our members marching towards true equality and systemic change. At Metro Detroit Youth Clubs, one of our core values is our pride in our inclusivity and diversity. We lift up voices and we reject agendas that look to suppress them. We condemn any type of superiority, racism, or violence. We stand by our African American Club members, their families, and our communities as we seek justice, equality, and healing together.

The MDYC team echoes the frustrations and calls for needed reforms to our systems. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown and countless others happen all too often, and sadly, it could happen to any one of our members tomorrow just because of the color of their skin. That is completely unacceptable. Systemic racism, police brutality, and other structural failings are complicated issues this nation has struggled with for hundreds of years, but while the solutions are complicated, we hold responsibility in making sure justice becomes our reality. As a Club, we annually engage in hundreds of thousands of hours of programming, various empowerment opportunities, mentorship clubs for our teens, and we help our communities through thousands of hours of volunteer work. However, this is not enough. We must do more. We will do more to bring about real change. Black Lives Matter. Those words matter, but it is on us now to do more than just repeat the words. We must act on them. We must embody their meaning. We must, and we will.