The Brutal Truth: Opportunity Might Be Equal But Access Is Not

“Too many are treating this as just another day’s sensational headline, as if our outrage is overblown or unwarranted, as if this is normal, just life as we know it.

“I need to be absolutely clear: This cannot be normal. This should never be life as we know it. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable. None of us deserves this kind of abuse in a country that promotes liberty and justice for all. None of us.”

Earlier this week, I shared my thoughts as a Black man in America with our staff. As a diverse and mission-driven organization led by a majority-Black executive team, we are personally and collectively tired right now. But we are also fiercely determined.

We are determined to channel our ever-present pain into the critical work of change. Determined to break down the cycles of inequity and weaponized racism. Determined to continue pushing our government to truly serve and support all of its people when they find themselves in their greatest need, with fairness, empathy, and dignity.

We are a country in crisis, and the unrest unfolding in our cities in the past week puts a hard and necessary spotlight on the depth and hurt of racial and social inequities also tragically laid bare by the pandemic.

The statistics are mind-numbing: the number of deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 passed 100,000, and 40 million Americans are now officially unemployed. Black and Latinx communities make up the disproportionate majority of those directly affected by the pandemic in every way.

The crisis is underscoring a brutal truth: while opportunity has been equal, access to it has not. Income, generation, geography, education, language, race, ethnicity—all conspire here to ensure that we are not on equal footing. For many, the opportunity gap just grows.


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What if access to food, housing, education, health care, income, voting was truly equitable in this society? Is it too much to expect, as members of our communities, that our public systems are fair?

Those of us in the social impact sector have come to recognize the deep interconnectedness of health, education, economic security, housing, transportation, and all that that make up a secure, healthy life. But we must also recognize that we cannot achieve true transformation without addressing the systemic and institutional racism that is embedded within these structures.

In our work at Alluma, we see that manifest in the lack of access to support and services that considers the whole person and the life they live. We believe that a community is only as strong as its support for all members. One way we can start to bridge that harmful gap is to build better systems, ones designed with an understanding of who and what we are, that treat everyone with dignity.

We stand with all those across the country fighting for justice. We are determined to do our part to help government build the better, more just society we all deserve.

In solidarity,
Robert Phillips
Robert Phillips
President and CEO, Alluma