A Special Message in Solidarity from ICSEW

To the ICSEW Community and Supporters:

ICSEW is deeply honored to share the message below from the Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity (BUILD) business resource group, many of whom are part of the ICSEW community. BUILD exists to improve the experiences of current and future Black employees, increase the representation of Black people in leadership positions, give voice to Black perspectives in policy decisions about Washington communities, and build each other up as we move forward.

We, as the ICSEW community and as individuals, have a responsibility to find ways to eradicate racism, discrimination and disparate outcomes not only within the organizations where we work, but in our daily lives. It may seem overwhelming – but small, concrete actions, like speaking up and not being silent in the face of racism, can make real change happen.

ICSEW is committed to building an environment of opportunity and equity for all. Included on BUILD’s webpage is a list of resources that can further support our friends and colleagues.

Thank you to BUILD for moving Washington forward.


Amal Joury, ICSEW Chair


A Message from BUILD

Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity (BUILD) brings you a special message from our Leadership. For more information, support, and resources, visit our website: BUILDWA.org

We are not okay.  How could we be?  Continued acts of violence toward members of the black community have shaken our souls, left ineffaceable images in our minds, and fractured our hearts.  Within our community, there is fear as we wonder who among us is next?  Anger as we contemplate why these acts continue to happen.  Sadness as we reckon with the fact each atrocity reaffirms that all people are clearly not created equal. At the intersection of all of our emotions is the realization that the existence of racism has yet to be openly acknowledged.  A mere utterance of the word solicits cringe-worthy responses by those who attempt to justify the motives behind the actions that create injury within the black community; while giving rise to discomfort in others who would rather it remain a secret locked deep in the bowels of our social structure where it has no impact upon them. Continued denial of what is so clearly obvious is both shameful and disgusting and continues to perpetuate the disenfranchisement of a people.

No longer can we sit silently idle while our communities are subjected to the racial contract that has plagued our country.  To continue to deny that racism exists in our culture would be comparable to denying oneself of the nutrients that are essential for survival.  Abstinence in the short-term is possible, however, long-term deprivation would result in catastrophic injury and suffering.  The deprivation of equality and the preservation of racist ideals have caused catastrophic injury and suffering to the black community for far too long.  We can no longer elect to occasionally treat the symptoms of racism in our society.  This disease must be eradicated completely.  A remedy, however, cannot be achieved without the admission that racism still exists.  As Dr. King (1968) posited in his speech at Grosse Point High School:

We will never solve the problem of racism until there is a recognition of the fact that racism still stands at the center of so much of our nation and we must see racism for what it is.  It is the nymph of an inferior people.  It is the notion that one group has all of the knowledge, all of the insights, all of the work, all of the purity, all of the dignity.  And another group is worthless, or on a lower level of humanity, inferior.  To put it in philosophical language, racism is not based on some empirical generalization which, after some studies, would come to conclusion that these people are behind because of environmental conditions.  Racism is based on an ontological affirmation.  It is the notion that the very being of a people is inferior.

His words maintain their relevance in American culture some 52 years later.  Violent acts of racism have eroded the hope of a nation at a time where the strength of togetherness held remarkable value.  The uncertainty of our current circumstance coupled with the global pandemic amplifies the intensity of the times.  Now more than ever we call upon those who can speak truth into power, bravely denouncing the oppressive acts that have created dissension within our communities.  We must be willing to display a courageous vulnerability as we share with others how these tragedies have impacted our lives.  We must engage in a unified dialogue not to cast blame on a villain; rather partner in a collaborative fashion to generate ways in which we can raise awareness, educate others, and reconstruct the social agreement around race in our communities.  In the words of Fredrick Douglas, “the feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the priority of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against man must be proclaimed and denounced” (Douglas, F., 1852). 

To our community, Blacks United In Leadership and Diversity stands with you.  Our hearts are fractured along with yours.  We see you, we love you, and honor you.  With open arms, we welcome you to join us as we continue this dialogue at our next general membership meeting June 18th (calendar appointment linked below).  You are not alone…we are not alone.  Together we will let every voice be heard.  Together we will continue to persevere.  Together we will prepare to rise united and meet this moment.

Information on BUILD’s June 2020 Meeting:

BUILD Virtual June 2020 General Membership Meeting.ics


Douglas, F. (1852). What to a slave is the fourth of july. Speech. Corinthian Hall. Rochester, NY.  Retrieved from https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources/texts/what-to-the-slave-is-the-fourth-of-july

 King, M.L., Jr. (1968). Two americas. Speech. Grosse Pointe High School. Grosse Pointe, MI. Retrieved from https://www.gphistorical.org/mlk/mlkspeech/mlk-gp-speech.pdf 

The Washington State Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity business resource group exists to improve the experiences of current and future Black state employees, increase the representation of Black people in leadership positions, give voice to the Black perspective in policy discussions about Washington communities, and build each other up as we move forward.

Please share this information and encourage your colleagues and state-employed family and friends to attend and get involved! We are a formal, enterprise-wide resource group conducting official state business. Participants are not required to take leave to participate. If you experience any challenges to participating, please let us know.

BUILD Resources Page: https://www.buildwa.org/resources.html


New Black Community State Business Resource Group Kickoff is Oct 24 in Lacey


By Rachel Friederich, ICSEW Communications Chair 

LACEY—State employees are invited to attend a free kickoff event for the Washington State Black Community Business Resource Group.

The event takes place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Lacey Community Center, 6729 Pacific Ave. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. for food and fellowship. All state employees are invited. The event will be catered with food representative of black culture, so event organizers are requesting people to register to get an accurate attendance count.

Statewide business resource groups, BRGs, bring together groups of employees and their allies who have a common interest or characteristic, according to the Office of Financial Management, OFM, which runs the state website listings for BRGS. BRG members bring their unique knowledge and perspectives, making them an asset to state business needs such as recruitment and retention, according to OFM.

The event will give attendees an opportunity to network and learn more about the Black Community BRG’s goals. The event will also feature guest speakers T’wina Nobles and Washington State Rep. Kristine Reeves. Nobles is the president and CEO of the Tacoma Urban League, an organization whose mission is to assist African-Americans and other underserved urban residents in the achievement of social equality and economic independence. Nobles is also the director for the University Place School District. Reeves, (D-Federal Way), is a representative for Washington’s 30th legislative district, which includes the cities of Federal Washy, Des Moines, Auburn, Algona, Pacific, Milton and parts of unincorporated King County.

The Black Community BRG is the newest of the state’s six BRGS. The state’s other BRGS include the Veteran’s Employee Resource Group (VERG), Rainbow Alliance and Inclusion Network (RAIN), which supports LGBTQ+ employees, the Latino Leadership Network, Disability Inclusion Network and the Washington Immigrant Network (WIN).

The Black Community BRG goals include:

  • Promote state government as an employer of choice supporting efforts that increase representation of individuals of the Black Community at all levels of employment.
  • Better the lives of state employees through advocacy, outreach, opportunity, and advisement to the Governor and agencies on policies that affect state-employed black people, and ultimately, communities in which they live and serve.
  • Contribute to a more diverse understanding of the unique, multi-faceted aspects of the Black Community in Washington State.
  • Integrate the history, cultural experiences, values, and knowledge of both black people and their allies into the workforce of Washington State government.
  • Provide advice and assistance to state agencies regarding strategies to hire, retain, and develop black people in Washington State government.
  • Apply diverse perspectives and experiences to the examination of the issues facing Washington State. Diverse perspectives enhance the fullness of our understanding of these issues and open opportunities for the consideration of new ideas and better solutions.

Questions? Contact Megan Matthews, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Curriculum & Policy Consultant, Department of Social & Health Services (360) 725-4780 or matthmr@dshs.wa.gov.