Black lives matter.

Black lives matter. We believe this, we stand behind this statement, and we are committed to making it true at Access of West Michigan and throughout our community. We stand with the Black community in calling for needed change. We grieve the lives lost unjustly to police brutality throughout our history, most recently Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. We recognize that there are names that have not made into our headlines and that countless lives have been lost to racism. We mourn, we feel pain, sorrow, anger, and we know we must act.

As a non-profit that has been in existence for nearly forty years, we recognize that we have been complicit in the anti-black racism that has deep roots in our community. We know this has harmed the Black community and continues to do so. Grand Rapids and Kent County are not devoid of racism and in many ways our philanthropy and non-profit rich environment has exacerbated it. We recognize that we have a role to play in dismantling racism in the non-profit sector and the many systems of which we are a part. As an organization dedicated to cultivating solutions to poverty and its effects in Kent County, Access recognizes the oppressive systems that we have inherited which disadvantages millions to this day. Racism is a root cause of poverty; we cannot cultivate meaningful solutions to poverty if we do not address it. We invite our partners and others to do the work of antiracism with us.

We recognize that systemic change is necessary and needed to move us all toward a more just, equitable community where Black lives matter and are fully valued. We continue to listen and learn from others who have gone before us, while also taking overdue actions and challenging ourselves to go deeper to make adequate change. We are thankful for CORR (Congregations Organizing for Racial Reconciliation) for their continued partnership, training, and coaching with our team. To learn more about them, click the link below.

This is long term work and we are committed to staying in it day in and day out. If you are looking for next steps to learn more about antiracism, we have a couple of links with great resources below. 

https://corrnow.org/ Congregations Organizing for Racial Reconciliation 

https://wearelitgr.com/ We Are LIT Grand Rapids is an independent, multicultural bookshop offering new, diverse books across all genres. They have curated an audiobook playlist titled “How to Be an Antiracist.” 

https://bookshop.org/lists/this-list-is-anti-racist This is list is from Brain Lair books, a black- female- owned independent shop. 

https://www.bustle.com/p/10-books-about-race-to-read-instead-of-asking-a-person-of-color-to-explain-things-to-you-8548796 â€œ10 Books About Race to Read Instead of Asking A Person of Color to Explain Things to You

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