June 3, 2020 (Brunswick, ME) – Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) stands with millions of people worldwide who will not tolerate racially motivated brutality and injustice. To those who spread hate, fear and violence in order to divide us, we say: stop now.
As the world confronts an unprecedented public health and economic crisis that has put Black Americans, Native Americans and people of color on the front lines of vulnerability, the baseless murders of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery have shocked and horrified us. They are just four of a number of Black Americans who have been killed by the police or people in power since the beginning of 2020, alone.
To our brothers and sisters of color: we share your outrage and grief. We honor the enduring resilience and strength of individuals, families and communities that have experienced generations of oppression, devaluation, disinvestment and intimidation. We are grateful for the opportunity to connect and partner on initiatives to dismantle inequitable systems and structures.
As individuals and as an organization, we are committed to gaining a deeper understanding of how bias, racism, power and privilege impact all aspects of our work with the individuals and communities we serve, including Black entrepreneurs and business owners. We pledge to open our minds and hearts to individuals and communities – learning from you in order to take steps to achieve a more inclusive economy and society.
The division in our country results in fear and mistrust, but more than that, a lack of leadership, a loss of innovation, collaboration and a true understanding of unity. How can we hold our heads up when members of our community are struggling to survive?
CEI’s mission is to build an economy that works for everyone. We are one of over a thousand community development financial institutions (CDFIs) nation-wide that work for economic, social, environmental and political justice. Over 70 percent of our business financing and advice goes to enterprises led by or creating opportunities for people with low incomes or in communities with low incomes. We know that we can and must do more. Here are a few of the ways we intend to move forward in 2020:
- Respond to urgent demand for technical assistance for business owners and entrepreneurs of color as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Expand business assistance and financing for diverse business owners through Wells Fargo’s Diverse Community Capital program
- Advocate for African American representation on the Maine Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee
- Serve as a member of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations sponsored and chaired by Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross of Portland
- Undertake a diversity, equity and inclusion inquiry and learning process with our staff and board in collaboration with OpenSource Leadership
- Provide time for staff members to vote on November 3
We won’t go back.
The CEI Team