Coming Together for Change
I want to acknowledge the tragic acts of violence and racism happening across our country. Members of our McKinstry family are hurting, our communities are hurting and my heart breaks with them. Our country is pleading for change.
The senseless killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and George Floyd in Minnesota and many others leave us shocked and sickened. We all share in the grief of their families and communities. That these tragedies join a long history of violence against Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals is our national shame and we must address it. The outrage nationwide has been further exacerbated by the countless systemic inequities laid bare during the pandemic. Our neighbors of color are more likely to die from COVID-19, to experience housing and food insecurity, to lack access to quality medical care, and to be exposed working the frontline jobs that have helped to keep many of us home and safe.
Unlike facing down COVID-19, I don’t have a scientific explanation for the persistence of hate, nor do I know the path to ending it. But I do know that our values have guided us over the past 60 years – through recessions and a global pandemic – to put people first. At McKinstry, we treat each other like family. We respect and encourage all perspectives. We value people of all backgrounds – of all skin colors and all ethnic backgrounds. If we don’t act on these values and sit idly by espousing flowery words with empty promises, we will only serve to maintain the status quo.
Last week a beloved, long retired McKinstry plumbing foreman, Dan Duncan passed away. He was an excellent craftsman and a mentor not only to me, but more importantly to a generation of black craftsmen who would join McKinstry during the years of court ordered desegregation of the building trades unions here in Seattle and across the country. At the time I remember thinking that while these changes impacted people and businesses, they were important to heal society and to do the right thing.
I realize looking back that I did not do enough. That I moved on to other priorities and that Dan would think that I had lost my youthful dedication to equity and justice. Maybe he will give me one more shot at making a difference.
To our family members in the BIPOC community—I see you. You matter, your lives matter, and you are valued at McKinstry. When I hear members of this community ask “Who will speak for me? Who will stand up for me?” I say I will, we will.
While it is important to speak out, to oppose racism, and advance a commitment to equity, it is even more important to take action and to be a part of the solution. While we continue to make McKinstry a place where diversity and inclusion are a priority, we also must live out our individual responsibilities to equity every day and everywhere we go. Let’s commit to helping correct this inequity with both our personal and collective action.
You have my thanks for joining me on this journey. Please be safe and look after those around you in this challenging time. I and McKinstry will be here to help. Today, let us see ourselves as a family of 328 million—a community that we are empowered to make better for all.
Take good care,