Director’s Desk: June

Black Lives Matter. We are called to re-commit ourselves to work, every day, to move our workplaces, our communities, our state, and our nation towards justice.

The murder of George Floyd served as a tipping point. The calculated and deliberate behavior of the police officers, in broad daylight, while aware of cell phone cameras trained on them, was too much for us to look away from.

The murder of Mr. Floyd made a city, a nation, and a world pay attention.  It has moved our communities to courageously march, to pray, and to call out for change. To call out for justice.

How will we respond to that courageous and hopeful call? There are many things we can do. We can uplift the voices of leaders like the Coalition of Communities of Color and the Oregon Legislative People of Color Caucus who are calling for immediate action to reimagine and reform our systems for policing and incarceration and divert resources to real solutions. We can advocate for policy and budget decisions that prioritize communities of color in recovery efforts, knowing that they are hardest hit by our current economic and health crisis, and have been systematically left out of previous work to build community wealth and assets.

I’m also thinking of those of you who, like me, are white, privileged in multiple ways, and hold power. Who lead organizations like Neighborhood Partnerships, which emerged from white corporate culture. For the sake of our neighbors, our children, and ourselves, we need to listen to that call. We need to dedicate our resources and our energy to work for justice. To borrow the words of our friends at the MRG Foundation, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion aren’t enough. We need Justice.

What have I learned about how we move towards justice? The last several years at Neighborhood Partnerships, I have had the privilege of working with the Center for Equity and Inclusion and carrying that work forward with the Neighborhood Partnerships staff and Board. I am slowly learning to move over, to listen, to share power. I am seeing the impact of decisions made with the benefit of multiple perspectives. I am learning that the best ideas emerge when we actively center the voice and power of those who are most impacted by unjust policy and systems.

I am grateful every day to those who have helped me, prodded me, and challenged me on this journey.

I recognize that because we are all raised in a system that is at its core and in its essence created to perpetuate and sustain injustice and racialized outcomes, racism shows up everywhere. Therefore, I must question everything. How we pay our staff, how we identify contractors, how we make decisions,  who we invite to meetings and conversations,  what we fight to achieve. Justice requires that we upend it all and build new systems.

This is hopeful – hope filled — work. Learning to be anti-racist, to support the emergence of new realities, is the path to a better and just future.