The South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) stands in solidarity with Pittsburgh’s Black and brown communities in saying unequivocally that Black Lives Matter and that we will not tolerate the vile hate speech and acts of racism on display in the vandalism of Quarry Field.
Quarry Field, in the heart of South Side Park, is the home of the South Side Bears, a youth football and cheerleading community organization that supports the development of young majority Black and brown children in the South Side Slopes and surrounding neighborhoods through sports. The Bears are the last remaining youth sports team in the Hilltop Neighborhoods. We are exploring ways for us to meaningfully engage and support the Bears as a SSSNA community – and we also urge you to consider donating to the South Side Bears by reaching out directly to its president, Kevin Alton @ www.facebook.com/Southsidebears.
We also acknowledge that we must move beyond words of support into action – and cannot do that without addressing our own biases and inequities.
As an all-volunteer neighborhood association in the predominately white South Side Slopes, we must address head on the privilege of our organization and our neighbors and reflect on how we contribute to the continued segregation of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods. From a review of our mission and the activities and priorities we undertake – to the makeup of our board and membership – we will strive to eradicate the vestiges of racism, misogyny, ableism, transphobia, and xenophobia within our organization. We will work to become a model of what it means for neighborhood associations to live our values and contribute to a vision of Pittsburgh that is truly most livable for all.
As President of the Association, I don’t have all the answers of how we’re going to move forward. As a 41-year-old white man, I know that I have not yet done all the work I need to do to fully understand how I benefit from, and contribute to, white supremacy and systemic racism. I commit to holding myself accountable and ask that you help hold me accountable as the leader of this vibrant and evolving organization.
A big part of that will come from listening and learning. In the city of bridges, I’m committed to building new ones and look to you to help inform how we can better align our work with the needs of the community.
Please join us in this process so together we can identify and undertake tangible actions that move us and the South Side Slopes forward – now and in the future.
Blake M. McLaren
South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association