Black Lives Matter. Black Dreams Matter.

A message from our CEO, Eshauna Smith:

George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. There are so many names now – too many to list here – of black people whose lives have been taken too soon because of the color of their skin.

Like so many Americans, I am struggling to find the words for this moment, but I want to try to share what is in my heart.

As a black woman and a wife and mother of two black children, I am starkly reminded of the brutal world that we live in, one in which my children can be killed simply for what they look like.

Racism in its many forms sends black youth a message of futility every day. Racism sends a message that there is no point in trying, hoping, dreaming, because your skin will speak for you. Racism speaks the language of hate so loudly that it takes an entire village to drown it out.

This cycle of racist violence and oppression must end. We have to create a world where all young people, no matter who they are, where they come from, or what they look like, are able to dream, to reach their fullest potential, to live the lives they deserve – to LIVE in every sense of the word.

At Urban Alliance, our team and our partners are in the fight every day. We are committed to fighting for racial justice and equity every day by training the next-generation workforce, because the effects of systemic racism are not just felt through police brutality, but in daily acts of unconscious and conscious racism that perpetuate oppression and prevent equal access to opportunity for black and brown Americans. That’s why at Urban Alliance we work toward equity by ensuring that young black and brown students can access the training, social capital, and networks necessary to level the playing field in the world of work.

We are making a transformative difference by helping students to understand that they are not less than – no matter what this world tells them – that they are just as good, just as smart, just as talented, and just as deserving of all this life has to offer.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that “it’s much easier to integrate a lunch counter than it is to guarantee a livable income and a good solid job.” The fight is a long and hard one, but I truly believe that as our students succeed, we are changing the system from within, one young person at a time. And we will not stop.

COVID-19 has laid bare pre-existing racial and socio-economic disparities across American communities, where the pandemic has had a disproportionate and devastating impact on the youth that we serve. Our black and brown students are fighting a two-front war: they are fighting against the systemic racism they experience every day, while fighting to maintain their health and survive this unprecedented moment.

Now is not the time to pull back. Now is the time for the entire Urban Alliance community to double down on our work and show our students that they are seen, supported, and loved.

  • Reach Out to Youth – If you do not already mentor an Urban Alliance student, consider sending a message of support to our students here.
  • Invest in Racial Equity Solutions – Continue your critical partnerships with Urban Alliance, and look for other organizations in your community who work toward creating a more equitable future.
  • Listen to Black Voices – Listen to the youth in your community, and commit to continuous learning.
  • Speak Out and Bring Others to the Table – Add your voice to the chorus for change and bring others along.

Black lives matter. Black dreams matter.

With gratitude and love,

Eshauna Smith
CEO, Urban Alliance