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Safety in our community means dismantling racism

There is a phrase that we use in the office more than we care to: “wow, you can’t make that up”. This past 18 months has been at times both stranger than fiction and stone-cold sobering.

The COVID-19 pandemic has showcased how violence thrives in isolation. Individuals with abusive behaviors centralize power and control in efforts to isolate their victims: keeping them trapped with coercive abuse. Resources for survivors across the local districts have long waitlists which causes accessibility to safe, affordable housing nearly impossible to obtain.

1 in 5 individuals will experience violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime and the isolation of the pandemic has escalated violent behavior and gun purchases.

While this is happening, our nation has experienced what some have termed a “racial reckoning” launched by the horrific death of George Floyd. Oppressive systems are starting to be analyzed and the white supremacy that has been the framework of our nation’s policies, laws and culture is being called out. The trainings, literature, and research about the long history of racism that is interwoven in almost everything is an introspective, humbling, educating, growth experience and it has felt both overwhelming and almost paralyzing with what to do next both on a personal level and with DOVE and the services we offer while battling the fear of making mistakes.

I’d like to share with you what I know to be true and what guides our values and policies at DOVE:

1. Silence about racism is complacency

2. As a white woman, I can use my privilege in my work, my personal life, and relationships to speak up when racist acts occur and support actions that dismantle racism. And speaking up retroactively when there is less risk is not helpful.

3. It is my job to educate myself – it is NOT the job of a black person to educate me about racism

4. When a BiPOC(Black, Indigenous, Person of Color) person shares an experience of racism, I believe them without question

5. Our current judicial, human, and prison systems are built on racism, and it is the job of white people to dismantle those systems

6. I live in a small, white-dominant community and that is not an excuse to not be a part of the solution. Racism began with white people and it is our responsibility to correct this.

7. It is critical that resources and programs are offered with equity as the non-negotiable core value and that we build a culture at DOVE focused on proactive counteraction of social and racial inequities.

8. It is not enough to do what feels comfortable. This is uncomfortable and the truth of the racism that is the foundation of our communities is more than a little humbling.

9. We all use our privilege to play a part in racism.

10. It is important to not hide behind fear of making mistakes.

11. When we make mistakes, we can acknowledge the mistake and provide an apology, it is not the job of a BiPOC individual to console us to make our mistake more palatable.

DOVE is proud to be a social profit organization. That is the point of our work: social profit. The term nonprofit is misleading as there is a huge profit for the communities we serve. The definition of social profit is about desired social benefits that are defined locally. But how do we define as a community? What does it look like to promote love in our community? How do we nurture our own and each other’s mind, body, and soul? How do we support BiPOC people without white narrative being at the center?

As we provide advocacy and prevention services to Vashon and our surrounding areas, we are consistently asking ourselves these questions and moving our policies and practices to fight white supremacy, encourage anti-racism and expand LOVE in our community. Our policies are “working documents” with intention to be constantly learning, growing, and adjusting.

These stranger than fiction times can give us a silver lining of hope that we can call be more aware of those around us and their human experience in an effort to infuse more care, compassion and love in our community.

I encourage each of you to spend some time with these resources that discuss racism and what it means to do our part in dismantling the racism rampant in our communities and human services.

~Heidi Jackson, Executive Director, The DOVE Project

"My white people - all the individual learning and unlearning in the world is not going to end white supremacy. One of the most insidious cultural beliefs we've absorbed is individualism. Our individual transformation and learning about racism isn't going to end white supremacy. Yes - deep, political education is a necessary ingredient to social movements, and yes, white people need lots of learning. AND individual behavior change alone isn't going to dismantle white supremacy and racialized capitalism. We gotta join organizations, take collective action, and organize those around us to force racist and exploitative systems to crumble and decision makers to implement the vision set by Black movements’ leaders." -- Erin Heaney, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)

"Walking While Black" (Garnette Cadogan)

Racial Bias Test (Harvard) -- this will help you understand what your biases might be

Solidarity Is by Deepa Iyer, which speaks to our roles in social change (weaver, disrupter, visionary, etc.)

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