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(Addressing North Suffolk employees)
“As I watched and read the news coverage of the most recent unjust murders of people of color by law enforcement officials and the reactions of so many throughout our country, I felt compelled to reach out to all of you. I thought about what I would, or even could, say to our North Suffolk community. I have found myself at a loss to adequately and appropriately convey what I can only begin to describe as despair and outrage and profound sadness. It is obvious to me that we are facing another public crisis that for too long has been far more destructive and insidious than the pandemic that has affected all of us over the last few months. I am reminded of the social and civil “unrest” of 1960’s and 70’s that drew attention to racial inequalities, inequities and injustices – a time that many of you will not remember but that some of us, including me, lived during. I felt then – and feel today – that we have so very far to go to realize the desire and demand for equality, justice and accountability in our country.
I do not pretend to know, nor would I say that I understand, how a person whose skin color is not the same as mine must experience life – the depth of feelings that come from generations of oppression and injustice and unfairness. Some of you know that one of my sons is a black man. I have seen the disparities between him and his white brother and their friends. I have held him in his anguish, unable to explain or change the experiences of his life that have resulted because of the color of his skin. As a person, I have known that it is wrong and, as a mother, I have felt helpless.
I am proud of the diversity of our North Suffolk staff. We have people from different countries, cultures, religious backgrounds, skin colors, gender identities, languages and abilities. It contributes to our richness and capacity to serve the diverse communities in which we work. In any organization, and particularly in an organization that has diversity among its staff, the effects of racism cannot and should not be denied or ignored. It is important that we confront our beliefs, our biases and our personal histories and that we learn to work together to ensure that ours is a culture of inclusion and acceptance. We will have to have hard conversations – conversations that have never been more important. Conversations that require a willingness to listen, to talk, open minds and a great deal of courage. There should be no place in our interactions, our workspaces, our communities or our country for racism or for acts of violence that represent a disregard for human rights and dignity.
There are other groups who have been the victims and targets of discrimination. I do not discount that many of them also have experienced the unfairness of judgments based on beliefs that their differences somehow make them “less than.” I recognize the necessity for action. I am committed to finding better ways to create an environment at North Suffolk that recognizes, respects and promotes diversity, inclusion and opportunity. I am committed to promoting understanding, acceptance and competency in our interactions and services. I am committed to eliminating disparities in access to health care, including behavioral health care. I am committed to working together to continue to deliver help and hope to those who need it.
My words today are inadequate but they come from my heart and are my attempt to reach across whatever divides us to find what will unite us. It is my hope that we can and will find our way to a future that truly reflects equity, equality, acceptance, inclusion, opportunity and justice. Whatever change can happen, it can begin with me – and I hope with you.
Jackie K. Moore, President & CEO, North Suffolk Mental Health “