“… being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it.” -Amanda Gorman, 2021 Inaugural Poet
As we begin Black History Month, as well pass the one year mark since Access launched our current antiracism team, we wanted to pause and reflect on our commitment to the work of antiracism as well as the events we’ve witnessed in the past month. In January we watched as our nation celebrated a time-honored tradition of the beginning of a new presidential administration. Amanda Gorman recited her inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb, speaking words we all needed to hear in this particular moment in our nation’s history. Just moments before she read her poem, we witnessed a historic moment, regardless of political party affiliation, as Kamala Harris swore in as the first African American, South Asian American, and woman Vice President of our nation. We recognize this as progress being made as another glass ceiling is broken for women and people of color.
Yet, the grief and anger from events earlier in the month at that very same place, our nation’s Capitol building, still felt close. Just weeks earlier the nation watched as The Capitol was taken over in an attempt to change the results of an election. We saw Confederate flags carried and shirts that glorified the holocaust being worn by the domestic terrorists who breached the Capitol building. As an organization, we condemn in all forms the white supremacy and violent actions that we witnessed on January 6, 2021.
We acknowledge that racism is a very real problem in our nation, and we are committed to working towards real and lasting change. The purpose of the Access anti-racism team is to uphold systems change and address the root causes of poverty by unpacking internalized individual and historic racism. By holding ourselves and our partners accountable through education, awareness, and action we will embed anti-racism into Access and our community for the long-term. While we do our work, we hope to grow in our voice and role in our broader community. We anticipate we will not always get it right and we recognize that we have made mistakes that have hurt people of color in our community. We apologize and acknowledge our complicity in upholding and perpetuating racism through our silence as well as through past actions that have caused harm. In the non-profit and ministry sector we uphold the same systems because we do not prioritize change, we do not take the time to reflect, and we allow ourselves to live in a scarcity mindset. We need to continue to be more intentional with our time, priorities, and make the space for creating change. Access commits to doing better and working to hold our partners accountable as well.
The last few weeks have reminded us of the importance of lament, grief, anger, as well as celebration and progress. At Access of West Michigan we are working hard to create an environment where we are ready to respond, take action, and move forward together. Please join us in our journey.