Reflections on Charlottesville

To the iMentor community,

Like many of you, I am still reeling from the acts of hate and bigotry that took place in Charlottesville last weekend. Those events serve as a grim reminder that the true and historic expression of white supremacy is not merely hate speech, but acts of violence and terror. To see this terrorism play out on a college campus, weeks before students return to classes in the fall, was a devastating reminder of the overt and covert acts of racism, everyday and institutional, that our students face on their path to and through college.

Such a heinous display of hate is difficult to process, regardless of your age, race, gender, or religion. Making sense of these senseless acts, along with our nation’s continued healing, will take time. It is a journey that requires each of us to take stock of how we show up in our communities as advocates and allies – at work, at home, amongst family, and in our neighborhoods – and to push ourselves to do even more.

To all iMentor students, current and alumni, please know that the iMentor community is here to support you, listen to you, and walk with you through this shameful time in our country. We will continue to fight every day to rebalance the odds that others try to take away from you. We know that the college communities and workplaces you join are stronger for your presence. We know that board rooms and government offices fall woefully short without you in them. And we want to see that reality change, not regress.

To our mentors, this can be an especially important time to reach out to your mentee, who may be experiencing a broad range of emotions or who, perhaps, may seem unaffected by this weekend’s events. In either case, this is exactly the kind of moment for mentors to ensure their mentees know they are thinking about them, care for them, seek to learn from their perspective, and stand ready to support them in whatever way they need. Your Program Manager is ready to support you in these efforts, whether that means providing access to helpful resources or simply a space to process your own emotions and stance.

We are a community—16,000 individuals strong this year—that believes in the power of relationships and dialogue. We value the mutual learning and empathy that comes from building relationships across difference. We must take these instincts and leverage them both within our community and beyond it with our friends, family, and co-workers. It is going to take so much more from us, especially those of us who are white, to realize the broader change we seek. We must push the conversation, building empathy and challenging bias, even when it is uncomfortable.

After this tragedy, I am left reflecting on how much more I can do, as an individual, as a white man, and as the leader of this organization. I am humbled by how far we have to go. And I am hopeful that more of us will step into the work.

Thank you for being a part of the iMentor community. I am so grateful to be growing and learning alongside each of you.

Best, Mike