Photo by Jamie Thrower

What I’m Thankful For

Catalyzing this Moment for Justice and Equality

I feel a deep gratitude, for being able to emerge, however tentatively, from the isolation and separation of Covid-19, and for the shifts we’re seeing in institutional racism and the stark inequalities around us.

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One of the silver linings of the pandemic has been that I’m more grateful for the everyday things in life. That my kids are attending school in person. Going trick-or-treating with my 9-year-old even with masks on. A year ago, my parents couldn’t visit for Thanksgiving because of Covid-19. But they’ll be with us this year. And I’m grateful for that.

Many of us have lived through an incredible amount of pain and loss these last two years. There is a sense of upheaval and uncertainty around us. A lot of concern about the health of our communities and our democracy, the injustices and the harms facing so many people. But I also feel a deep gratitude—and not just for the basics of being able to emerge, however tentatively, from the isolation and separation of Covid-19. I’m also thankful for the shifts we’re seeing in how people think about institutional racism and the stark inequalities around us.

It’s something we witnessed over many years as the Haas, Jr. Fund joined with movement leaders to change hearts and minds on LGBT equality. Yes, there were huge struggles along the way (and LGBT people still lack basic protections from discrimination in many states). But the country today is a remarkably different place—and a better place—for LGBT people than it was just 20 years ago. And it’s because people and organizations worked together to push for marriage equality, fight anti-LGBT discrimination in all of its forms, and change opinions, often one person and one conversation at a time.

During the pandemic, we’ve seen the same kind of transformation happening in real time as immigrant workers were suddenly recognized as “essential.” There is a new and more accurate understanding of how people working in industries from agriculture and food service to healthcare and other frontline professions are really the foundation of our economy and a lifeline for our communities. In defiance of the current narratives on immigration, we saw Americans from across the political divide embrace and welcome thousands of Afghan refugees who left their country to build a new life in the U.S. It’s hopeful. And I’m thankful to the immigrant-led organizations that keep lifting up immigrant stories and perspectives, spotlighting the problems, and calling out for solutions.

It’s the same reaction we saw after the 2020 police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and too many other Black Americans. People came together across all of the lines that too often divide us and they said, “Enough.” Black-led organizations in California and across the country lifted up the power and the voice of their communities—and they joined hands with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Latino communities, Indigenous Americans and others who share a firsthand understanding of the harms of systemic racism, and who see and feel the urgency of working for change.

That’s the kind of thing I am thankful for right now. I am thankful that change is possible. I am thankful that people are demanding change. I am thankful for the people and organizations who work every day to make it happen. And I am thankful that, despite a flood of misinformation and divisive appeals, people still can be moved to awareness and action—and compassion—based on an understanding of our shared humanity. In this newsletter, we share the story of how the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund, which was co-created by our founder, Walter A. Haas, Jr. For 35 years, Season of Sharing has been a lifeline for Bay Area families dealing with the ravages of poverty, Covid-19, wildfires and other crises in their lives. And it’s all because the people of our local community are stepping up with contributions to support their neighbors in need.

Our communities and our country are facing big problems … but right now, I am focusing on gratitude. I am thankful I will get to be at the table with my parents and my family for Thanksgiving. And I’m also thankful to be at the table with the amazing partners we work with at the Haas, Jr. Fund. They are making change happen each and every day—and they give me hope that we can catalyze this moment so that equality and justice can ultimately prevail.

What are you thankful for?