Press Statement

An Open Letter Condemning Violence and Systemic Racism

Stimson Center’s President and CEO Brian Finlay shared the following letter with Stimson staff members

In the past week, like you, I have been transfixed and horrified by the senseless act of violence in Minneapolis. That hateful act has again exposed the racism and intolerance that has colored the course of American history. I know that you join me in condemning that incident, and the many others like it that have plagued this country for generations. I do so in the strongest possible terms. 

The Stimson Center was founded to promote international security, shared prosperity & justice. Although our focus is global, that cannot blind us to the comparable challenges of violence, xenophobia, and injustice that many in our own country face. I recognize the anger, and hopelessness that many of you may be feeling. Please know that I stand with you and support you. At the same time, we can use that rightful rage to take action. Just as we do in our daily work at Stimson, we can not only raise our voices against injustice, but act in our daily lives to stand up for the persecuted and protect the vulnerable.

As some of you may be aware, for me Robert Kennedy has long been an imperfect but still compelling role model. In June, 1966 speaking in Cape Town in the midst of apartheid South Africa he said, “Each time [one] stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, [s/he] sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” Sadly, our own small actions will not mean an immediate end to injustice. Nonetheless, I believe that there is an obligation for each of us to do our part and I remain optimistic that we can and will do better.

The values upon which the Stimson Center was founded are unambiguous: among them, encouraging diversity, prizing respect and seeking impact to make a positive difference in our world. Each of us was drawn to those values when we chose to become a part of this community. Please know that Stimson is not and will not be silent in the face of injustice wherever we find it. I trust you will all join me in calling out systemic racism, and as importantly, taking personal action. Each of us can contribute to helping this country build a better and more perfect union where racism and all forms of inequity are more effectively addressed.

I am grateful to each of you for reaching out to me and to your colleagues with your ideas and your suggestions. I want to encourage a continued conversation backed by meaningful action. I issue this open letter today as a statement of common values. Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee met today and will soon be following up with additional resources and with additional channels for dialogue so that we might continue to listen, and to take pragmatic steps toward our commonly held and ideal objectives.

Yours sincerely,

Brian Finlay

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