At United Way, we are working hard to build a region that lives up to the ideals of inclusion, opportunity and equity. We believe white supremacy has no rightful place in America. Yet recent scenes from Virginia reflect what roils uneasily within us as a nation, and remind us of similar dark chapters in our region’s history. While many in our nation express shock and disbelief, many people of color recognize bigotry as a too-common part of their American journey. 

At United Way, we know our voice matters at times like this, when evil subsumes our nation’s better efforts and aspirations. We reject the nationalism, hateful rhetoric and divisive worldview foisted on all of us by racist white supremacists.   

While we believe our voice matters, we also know actions get things done. We will continue to work with our partners and our community to build a region that not only abhors racism, exclusion and disparity but actively dismantles them. That means working in schools to increase graduation rates and career/college readiness for the kids we have left behind; it means helping families who have been historically shut out obtain stable housing; it means being honest about the barriers that continue to stand in the way of our local kids and families of color.  

Join us. Or join other local organizations doing the same work. Now, more than ever, let’s let outrage be the catalyst for collective action. Let’s work together locally to move closer to our nation’s ideal that we all are created equal. 

- Keith Thomajan, President & CEO United Way of the Columbia Willamette