Commentary: Habitat is removing barriers, building reconciliation

By Tim Bailey

Like many of you, we’ve spent the recent weeks glued to the coverage of protests across the United States. In the days since George Floyd was held to the ground by a police officer’s knee for a fatal 8 minutes and 46 seconds, communities small and large across the United States have been rocked by sadness, anger and uncertainty.

Our hearts have lifted as we’ve seen peaceful protests. Our hearts have broken as we’ve seen violence.

We understand these protests aren’t just about the killing of George Floyd.

Tim Bailey

They’re about Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her own home during a no-knock raid in Kentucky. They’re about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot dead while jogging in his own neighborhood in Georgia. They’re about Christian Cooper, whose safety was jeopardized simply for asking a white woman to follow posted rules in Central Park. They’re about Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Rodney King and Emmett Till. They are about Ku Klux Klan members in the 1960s burning down Clarence Jordan’s vegetable stand and firing guns into homes of families at Koinonia Farm outside Americus, Ga. They’re about decades and centuries of individual and systemic racism that precede and infuse the founding and life of our nation.

The way we approach our work at Habitat for Humanity has been a vehicle for reconciliation and has broken down barriers between people. We work alongside those willing to partner with us, no matter their background or walk of life, and that will always be true.

We join our Twin Cities neighbors in mourning George Floyd. We share the outrage at the injustice and inhumanity of his killing at the hands of police. We recognize the pain in the African American community, which endures injustice and inhumanity each and every day.

Habitat is more than a housing nonprofit. It’s a vision of a world where we share one humanity. Habitat for Humanity was born on a farm in south Georgia on the theory of radical inclusivity, at a time when inclusivity was seen by some as an existential threat. It’s a vision of a world we still believe in and fight to build every day.

The last few months have been enormously challenging for our organization. The last week, even more so. We encourage each of you to reflect on the challenges we face and to rededicate yourself to that vision of a united humanity, where everyone – regardless of their race, of all faiths or of no faith – has a decent place to call home.

Tim Bailey is executive director of Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity.