News & Events
A Note on Recent Racial Unrest
June 2, 2020
As the leader of a mission-directed human services organization, I must acknowledge that we, as a nation, are in a very bad place.
We did not just arrive at this juncture from nowhere. It started 400 years ago when the first enslaved people were loaded off a ship. It evolved from the oppression of native peoples and the mistreatment of immigrants.
More recently, specific events have captured the attention of the media and the public as information and images are spread rapidly. We must be honest that injustice, racism, and inequity are everyday realities that do not grab the broader attention they deserve. Right now, it feels unique – for sure, none of us have experienced a global health crisis that has uprooted all sense of normalcy. Nor have the actions and words of our leadership been as divisive as they are now. Plus, our country is more politically polarized than ever.
It’s not overly shocking that the pandemic has taken an uneven toll on communities of color. It’s not like we don’t know that we have institutionalized uneven access to health care and other factors contributing to unequal health outcomes. It’s not particularly surprising that essential workers have borne the brunt of keeping society going – including the very people who comprise the employees of Rising Ground – or to find that they are predominantly people of color, often making the lowest wages.
That human services work – the work of Rising Ground - is underfunded reflects the value placed by our society on the work we do and the communities we serve. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery as he was jogging, and Amy Cooper weaponizing her white privilege against Christian Cooper, among many other recent instances, are horrifying, but not isolated, examples of what is wrong.
Beyond immediate and direct justice in each of these cases – and in any specific case – in my way of thinking, nothing short of constructive systemic change is the ultimate solution. We need to be reflective, have meaningful and honest dialogue, educate ourselves and others, and listen to each other. . . and do hard work together to help us emerge from this bad place.
Rising Ground’s Anti-Racism work including our Inclusivity Workgroup, are honest attempts to move our organization forward and contribute to the world around us. The Education Resource Group, which is part of our Anti-Racism work, has been holding periodic Safe Space meetings – places where staff can talk freely about race.
While one can feel despair, as racism and inequity are cancers that eat at our collective well-being, I think as people who choose our line of work – work that is rooted in a belief in the possibility of positive change - we can concurrently have hope. At Rising Ground, we value tenacity – the drive to keep pushing forward.
While not naïve about how much it will take to undo the ills that are so engrained in our society, we can hope and push for immediate justice at the same time that we use our collective work at Rising Ground and our efforts in our own personal lives to create equity and a greater sense of commonality.
Stay healthy and safe,