MRAA Issues Statement on Systemic Racism

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The MRAA is supporting nonprofits such as the George Floyd Memorial Fund.

The MRAA is supporting nonprofits such as the George Floyd Memorial Fund.

The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas is calling the killing of George Floyd “an unjust, unfair and deplorable act of violence.”

The MRAA issued a statement on Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man killed May 25 by a white Minneapolis Police Department officer.

“This is one act in a long series of violent acts upon the Black community that signifies the systemic racism that has plagued our society for hundreds of years,” the MRAA said in a statement jointly signed by all 13 team members. “The unrest in Minneapolis is a symptom of that racism.”

Minneapolis has been the center of some of the nation’s continued protests that began following video that circulated depicting a subdued Floyd telling officers: “I can’t breathe.”

MRAA, which is based in the Minneapolis area, “no longer has the privilege, ability or desire to remain silent,” the group said in the statement.

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“As the MRAA, we stand against racism and racial inequality,” the statement said. “We are learning what it means to be an ally and an advocate, and we are committing to do better in the future to learn about the injustices that Black people face and to stand up to do our part to contribute to the solution, as opposed to remaining silent about the problem. We implore our colleagues across the boating industry to stand, learn, commit and contribute alongside us.”

The group included a list of charities it was supporting, including the Lake Street Council, a nonprofit that works to see destroyed businesses on Lake Street — many immigrant- and Black-owned — are rebuilt and that owners have access to recovery funding.

MRAA is contributing directly to the nonprofit, and matching team member donations.

It is also supporting the Official George Floyd Memorial Fund to help with Floyd’s burial expenses, as well as grief counseling for family members; a portion will be allocated to the estate for Floyd’s children and their education.

MRAA also listed MTS Secondary School, Midtown Global Market, and the Pimento Relief Fund — a fundraiser for a Black-owned restaurant that was set on fire by white supremacists — as examples of groups it was supporting.

“Like you, we are disturbed to see the continued systemic racism that affects our families, our friends and our neighbors of color,” the statement said. “We are frustrated by the injustices and inequality Black people face in our community and elsewhere. We are saddened by the destruction that has been inflicted — often by outsiders — on area’s small businesses, grocery stores, pharmacies, schools, libraries and other organizations, many of which were immigrant- and people of color-owned, and all of which contributed to the well-being of our local community. We’re actively deciding to put feelings into solutions.”

MRAA encouraged and challenged members of the industry to look to their own neighborhoods and find ways to support civic engagement, criminal justice reform, and Black people, businesses and communities.

“We also ask that you, just like us, continue to learn and listen to those from diverse backgrounds,” said the statement. “We encourage you to open your hearts to change your minds and alter your points of view, if needed, as you learn and grow. We encourage you to look at how you can build community trust and connection with your neighbors of color. We support you in using your voice and your business’ voice to lift up Black people and other people of color. And we encourage you to work with your employees to give them the space and time they need to process current events, volunteer in your communities and have the difficult conversations we’re all having right now.”

The team said it would hold itself and one another accountable for making effective change to be part of the solution to systemic racism.

“We want to be authentic in creating this pledge to help remove barriers that hinder Black leadership and progress, and help us evolve to a supportive society that is better for all,” said the statement.

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