Op-eds | June 3, 2020

A Message of Hope and Accountability from our CEO Brandon Brown

Throughout the past several days, I have focused my energy inward: on my team at The Mind Trust where many of our colleagues – especially our Black colleagues – are deeply hurting. And on having countless conversations with my wife and our two boys about what more we should be doing to support Black activists and to ensure that our family’s actions are consistent with our professed values. One thing is clear: it’s long past time to stamp out the anti-Blackness that is pervasive in our society that literally is a matter of life and death every day for our Black brothers and sisters.

More than a year ago, The Mind Trust began a journey to examine our culture and the ways that we were contributing to systemic racism and white supremacy. Over time, we realized that even our best intentions are not enough. As a white leader of an education nonprofit where over 80% of the students we serve are Black and Brown, I’ve had to confront my own internal biases, my own blind spots, and my own complacency. Our racially diverse team has engaged in countless conversations over the past year to explore our identities, the legacy of systemic racism in America, and the painful ways that our organization has contributed to perpetuating white supremacy. While we’ve made significant progress, we’ve got a long way to go.

I would like to share with you the commitments we’ve made as an organization over the past year.

The Mind Trust is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all that we do to ensure present and future educational success for all students in Indianapolis. Upholding these principles is critical for our staff, our Fellows, community stakeholders, and our partners to spark radical systemic change. We recognize the past and continued existence of institutional racism, discrimination, privilege, and oppression in our education system and society at-large, in particular its adverse effects on our Black and Brown students.

We commit to pursuing antiracism by:

  • Creating policies, programs, and opportunities internally and externally that equitably redistribute power and control in our community.
  • Eliminating the predictability of outcomes associated with race or other identity markers through our work on behalf of our city’s students.
  • Reflecting on and evaluating the impact of our work by engaging our students, families, and communities.
  • Empowering and elevating current and upcoming leaders of color by investing in them through leveraging our institutional power, privilege, resources, and access.

I’m sharing these commitments with you because we need to be held accountable. Our organization has access to significant resources and influence, and we need to continually ask ourselves whether we are using that influence to advance the cause justice or to perpetuate the status quo. I ask you to hold both our organization, and me personally, accountable for upholding these commitments long after the protests end. And I ask that you hold us accountable to using our platform to amplify Black voices and activists in our community to lead the change that our city so desperately needs. It’s going to take all of us. Thank you.