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What does it mean to be an antiracist?

Community Impact

June 4, 2020

To our nonprofit partners and community supporters,

This week I attended a virtual networking event, and we were asked to use six words to introduce ourselves. I knew that beyond the usual, the expected, I had something else to say. When my turn came, I said: I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, nonprofit professional, exercise nut, and I am an antiracist. There, I said it – to a room full of strangers. And although the truth is probably closer to “I am an aspiring antiracist,” I put it out there in the world in language stronger than I’ve ever used before.

Like so many of you, we at CNM are reeling from the murder of George Floyd as well as so many unnamed individuals of color throughout the history of this country. I am reminded that Mr. Floyd is only the latest victim of a society built on systemic racism and inequality. The system was built to benefit people who look like me while overlooking those who do not, and the dismantling of that system will require ongoing self-reflection, followed by bold action by those of us in positions of influence.

It is heartbreaking to reflect that way back in 1967 Dr. King said these words: “And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again.” And here we are in June 2020 trying to address the failures of a society built on systemic racism. We have so much listening, unlearning, and advocacy yet to do.

I know that I have a unique responsibility, as the CEO of an organization that seeks to represent Middle Tennessee nonprofits well, to use my voice. I am a white leader in a position of privilege. I believe that white silence is complicity, so let me be clear: black lives matter. They matter to me as an individual, in my own organization, and in our nonprofit community and beyond.

At CNM we are committed to creating an equitable, connected community. As we move forward in this vision, we have made an organizational commitment to first humbly examine ourselves. This work will require commitment from us as individuals and as a collective. My staff and I are committed to doing the hard work of making CNM an antiracist organization, both for the benefit of our nonprofit members, ourselves as individuals, and our community as a whole.

I believe that those of us in positions of privilege have a moral imperative to listen, amplify, and support people of color in our community. We can no longer wait. We can no longer postpone. We must pursue the work of antiracism now.

Tari Hughes
President and CEO