Our country is hurting. Like so many of you, we were angered and deeply saddened by the brutal homicide of George Floyd at the hands of police charged with protecting the public. This – after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, the racist treatment of Christian Cooper, and a COVID-19 mortality rate for black Americans that is more than double the rate for white Americans – reminds us that racial inequities run deep in America today. It also reminds us of the urgency of our work.
There can be no social justice without racial equity.
This was the principle upon which MidPen was founded in 1970, known then as the Stanford Mid-Peninsula Urban Coalition. As described by Ira Hall, MidPen’s first Executive Director, our overall objective was to “attack top priority areas of racial and subsequent economic discrimination.” In those early years, beyond building affordable housing, MidPen invested in minority businesses, advocated against racial discrimination in rental housing, and advanced education, jobs and healthcare on the Peninsula. In the 50 years since, we have made much progress as both an organization and an industry. And yet, as evidenced by the grief and fear we’ve all experienced in the aftermath of recent events, we still have a long way to go.
At MidPen, we are committed to both providing access to quality homes for all and standing against the racist housing policies and programs that have systemically privileged some while keeping others down. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” There is pain in that “unheard” language, and we know that we must seek to first listen to it, strive to understand it, and then take action to alleviate it.
We’ve certainly heard the pain this week. And MidPen joins those who call for justice as we work together to create a more equitable future – one that fosters diverse communities where all people feel safe, heard and valued and have equitable access to opportunity. We won’t stop until that vision is realized.