In the midst of Black History Month, we are challenged to think about how we, as an organization that works on economic and housing justice, are honoring the history of the Black struggle for justice, equity, and equality in the U.S. It’s easy to say we are allies, but as a predominantly white-led organization, it’s important to take stock and reflect on how we are actually in allyship.
The Oregon IDA Initiative, the match-savings program that NP administers, has recently taken several steps to deepen our understanding of racial inequities in our program and address them. The Initiative has increased its completion rate overall and reduced the disparity in completion rates between Black savers and savers of other races, which we attribute to policy changes designed to reduce barriers, including increased allowable uses for match funds, a less punitive approach to missed deposits, and increased match rates and match amounts. We examine the degree to which our financial resources are invested in Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color (BIPOC) by using disaggregated data, using the findings to increase partnerships with culturally responsive and culturally specific community-based service providers. In the coming year, we will continue to reduce IDA program barriers and engage stakeholders in the responsible use of disaggregated data.
Also, the IDA Initiative is bolstering its offerings of equity trainings for the frontline service providers of the IDA. The trainings will support shared understandings and tools among IDA partners, administration staff, facilitators, and practitioners to center racial justice and equity. Through the workshops, participants will hold a clear why, vision and model for what this looks like in practice.
At our statewide conference, RE:Conference, we took time to explore and challenge the harmful narratives that permeate our culture about folks with lower incomes, especially about Black and Indigenous folks. This included discussions around the historical and policy-driven roots of the racial wealth gap, what wealth looks like from different community perspectives, what we gain when we take a community-centered approach to building prosperity, and the critical role of more and better data about BIPOC communities.
Another NP initiative, The Oregon Economic Justice Roundtable, a space of funders, advocates, and other nonprofit organizations committed to advancing collective, sustained action for economic justice, has called out racial justice as a key piece of their platform, committing to a decision-making process that is BIPOC led.
These are some of our efforts to honor Black History all year long. Our strategy is to recognize the inherent anti-Blackness in our systems and to center race in how we approach solutions.
As a bonus, and because we love lists, a very short list of suggestions of books, movies, videos, music, and essays to help you center and celebrate Black History Month.
- Black Panther (2018) and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)
- Drumline (2002)
- Nothing But a Man (1964)
- 1619 Project
- The Central Park Five (2012)
- I Am Not Your Negro (2016)
- The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011)
- Structural Racism Explained
- “Your Black Friend” animated short film by Ben Passmore, Alex Krokus & Krystal Downs
- Rapping, deconstructed: The best rhymers of all time