“Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke these words long ago, but they continue to be relevant today. Recently we witnessed the savage images of injustice that has been inflicted upon communities across the country. These images represent hundreds of years of racism and oppression experienced by African Americans in our country and beyond. We know what happened to George Floyd, handcuffed and strangled to death by the same police officers sworn to uphold justice in his community. We know what happened to Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Antwon Rose, Tamir Rice.. the list of violence and injustice is long and unnerving. We know this is no anomaly, and the time is long due for justice. We also know as members of the human service community, an integral part of our nation’s communities, it is essential to have equity and justice for all people of color and for all people in need of supports.
Since 2016, the Providers’ Council has increased our efforts in promoting race, diversity and inclusion initiatives for our members. We created a Race, Diversity and Inclusion Committee which strives to create communities of respect, tolerance and inclusion within the human services sector and the communities in which we live and work. Our objective is to broaden awareness and understanding within our racial, ethnic, gender, faith, nationalities and other identities by embracing diversity through knowledge, practice, and advocacy.
Our most popular program is the two-day Healing Racism Seminar facilitated by The Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley. This two-day signature program starts a community-level dialogue about the intersection of race and the history of racism that raises awareness, but also challenges how people define diversity as well as how people view themselves and others. They also facilitate a one-day Cracking the Codes/The System of Racial Inequity session which also includes deeper conversation on racial inequity, history of discrimination, white privilege, and internal and external factors. The Council has had nearly 200 members attend one of theses experiences, including over half of our board of directors.
The Race, Diversity and Inclusion Committee recently compiled the Race, Equity and Inclusion Glossary as part of our continued efforts. This glossary provides the language needed to communicate effectively with staff, clients and organizational leaders on how to embrace diversity and foster inclusion.