YMCA of Greater Houston Response to the Death of George Floyd

Sadness, disappointment, and dismay are just a few words to describe how we feel about the tragic death of native Houstonian George Floyd. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Floyd’s family and on behalf of the YMCA of Greater Houston we extend our deep regrets and condolences. The loss of a beautiful human life could have been avoided and we stand with the community with heartache, deep pain, frustration and a demand for change.

What happened in Minneapolis matters. What happened in Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, and Central Park matters. The lives of our black brothers and sisters matter, and what we do tomorrow will matter.

The YMCA of Greater Houston was founded 130 years ago as a place where all people could find hope, fellowship, and healing. We have a history that includes being one of the first institutions to welcome black people, but we still have work to do as an organization to fulfill our commitment to equity and inclusion.

We mourn the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. We mourn the deaths of countless others we have lost due to acts of racist violence. We will stand with our brothers and sisters who are made to feel less safe by this incident. We will fight for health equity in the face of the inequities being laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and now another unjust killing of a black man. And we will expand and strengthen our commitment to combat racism, bias, prejudice, and inequalities while fighting for justice. We can do better and we will do better, together.

Here are some ways the YMCA of Greater Houston will address these issues:

  1. Provide support for our African American Resource Network as they provide safe spaces for YMCA team members to process and heal from the trauma they experience from systemic and structural racism.
  2. Establish YMCA Equity Innovation Centers modeled after the Twin Cities YMCA, to provide literature discussions, open forums, listening sessions and training centered on undoing institutional racism and implicit bias.
  3. Encourage staff and members to speak up when they see something unjust happening in their community knowing that staying silent could be a matter of life or death.
  4. Collaborate with our public officials, community leaders and partners to combat inequities locally and nationally.
  5. Increase our investment in social justice initiatives and programs that support young leaders as they organize to change our community and the world for the better.

We know that when we work as one, we move people and communities forward. We invite you to join our efforts to implement lasting and meaningful change within our community and beyond. We are stronger when we are for all.

Stephen Ives
YMCA President and CEO

Khambrel Marshall
YMCA Board Chair