As the chorus of voices protesting George Floyd’s killing grew in numbers and volume last month, Park City Community Foundation shared in the horror, dismay, and urge to ensure his death was not in vain. Amidst the collective mourning was an overwhelming desire to work even harder to increase not just safety, but also opportunity and equitable outcomes for vulnerable populations.
In its extremity, the tragedy presented a moment that demanded focus and action. The Park City Community Foundation team decided it was time to state its values more clearly than ever before.
Community Foundation Executive Director Katie Wright and Board Chair Kristi Cumming condemned Floyd’s killing and the broader societal conditions that contributed to it in a joint statement. In addition to explaining the Community Foundation’s stance, the letter included the Antiracist Park City Pledge as a call to action for nonprofit groups, as well as government, schools, and other individuals and institutions.
The pledge listed concrete actions and practices people can follow to become stronger allies.
“We’re inviting people to lock arms with us and commit to growing, learning, and doing better,” said Diego Zegarra, Community Impact Director at Park City Community Foundation. “With this pledge we’re leaning into our values and living them.”
He added that in the wake of the protests, the local community response has been encouraging.
“We had a lot of folks reach out, saying ‘we want to be good allies’ and understanding the moment we’re in,” he said.
Park City Community Foundation has long emphasized the role of social equity – the outcomes experienced by underserved groups, and the reduction of disparities in outcomes – as integral to its mission. The Community Foundation leads Park City’s Social Equity Initiative in partnership with Park City Municipal.
Social equity remains a hard-to-reach goal for too many in our society, Zegarra said. This truth underpinned the creation of the Community Social Equity Strategic Plan in 2019.
“If you look across the board at all groups that might be underserved and you add a layer of race to it, people of color experience worse outcomes,” he said. “From academic achievement to access to health and other measures.”
One of the most concrete steps in the Antiracism Pledge is this directive: Stop saying “I’m not racist.” That is one that may surprise those who have been thinking or saying that recently.
“When I think about racism I don’t think about individual acts,” explained Zegarra. “It’s harder to think about the racism that lives right under the surface, that exists in our implicit bias. Racism envelops us and lives within our organizations and systems. It has less to do with individual responsibility than with how systems were created.”
Rachel Barnett, Executive Director of PC Tots, a daycare and early childhood development center for Park City’s workforce families, said she was compelled to sign the pledge.
“I believe in the collective power of people signing on and saying we agree and we will work in an antiracist manner,” Barnett said. “I hope this continues the conversation beyond pledge or signature. In what ways can we be antiracist or push for systemic change?”
Barnett said she believes it can be hard for people to even admit that racism is prevalent and everyone plays a part, but that awareness is a building block for progress.
The Antiracist Park City Pledge has been signed 130 times and includes 40 signatures from organizations, which has been gratifying. Zegarra said one of the Community Foundation ’s goals is for every nonprofit that participates in the annual Live PC Give PC fundraiser to sign it.
With the recent vandalization of the Black Lives Matter mural on Main Street it became clear that some community members are not in agreement with a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The Community Foundation helped to raise funds to re-paint the art work, and staff have been participating in community-wide conversations about these important issues.
Toward the goal of moving these issues into the local spotlight in an increasingly action-oriented way, Park City Community Foundation has moved up dates for upcoming nonprofit roundtable talks on racism, privilege, and equity to July 21 and July 28. The roundtable talks will feature Park City School District educator Meghan Zarnetske as co-host and facilitator with Zegarra.
“People want to talk about this,” he said. “We will use our privilege for good.”
Posted in: Social Equity