As chaos follows in the wake of injustice, and the U.S. (and now the world) faces dark days of violence and destruction, PRSA’s 2020 Chair T. Garland Stansell released the following letter to Association members on Monday, which we wanted to share with all of our readers:
My heart breaks for our country due to the current gut-wrenching circumstances playing out across the United States. I grieve the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. I pray for peace, comfort and healing for their families and friends. However, I feel deep within myself that is not enough.
Frankly, it is extremely difficult to know exactly how to feel, what words to convey and what actions to take that could possibly make a difference. No doubt that with 30,000+/- professional and student members, we have varied thoughts and opinions on the issues. There is one thing for certain: the current climate in our country is not healthy.
As communicators, those pledged to ethically and responsibly promote healthy dialogue and the free flow of information that can help inform attitudes, opinions and beliefs, I believe we should be the voices of compassion, the voices of civility, the voices of reason, and the earnest voices of challenge to help our employers, clients, communities, friends and families engage in productive, honest and empathetic conversation.
We can use our individual and collective voices to stand for truth, to speak out in our communities and workplaces to help cultivate a culture of diversity and inclusion that recognizes and celebrates the inherent value in each person regardless of age, race, religion and sexual identity.
Our D&I Committee and Board of Directors stand in support of our common humanity and shared experiences. We support diversity and inclusion and respect, embrace and affirm what makes each of us who we are, and advocate for proactive behaviors that lead to civil dialogue, valuing differences and respecting all cultures and communities. We’ve made these priorities a cornerstone of our strategic plans, and we were already committed to building on our work to be a more diverse and inclusive organization. Now, we are more resolute than ever to continue the work with renewed commitment and fervor.
We also stand in support of our First Amendment and the safety and protection of our journalist colleagues who are on the front lines doing their job. We can also use our position to engage others in dialogue that supports the free flow of information in a transparent, honest manner that advocates for accountability in our society.
Communicators cannot single-handedly change the tide in our country, but we can be a conduit to lead others to acknowledge the importance of using their voices in constructive ways—ways that help to move us through these troubling times and beyond to become better individually and as a society.
I encourage you to consider how you may use your voice and the collective voices of your colleagues in your Chapter, District or Section to not only be a part of the conversation, but to be a leader of the conversation in ways that make lasting differences in your sphere of influence. I also pledge to you that PRSA will continue working to further diversity, inclusion and civility in our organization and to develop programs and tools that will provide support to you in this vitally important work.
With heartfelt sincerity,