Welcome to CHNW’s web page dedicated to Racial Equity! CHNW is committed to centering racial equity within our organization, and it is our intention that this page will serve to keep our residential communities, our employees, and our community partners informed about our progress towards racial equity. This page will also be central to us raising education and awareness about overarching racial equity and racial justice issues.
Racial Equity is a social justice framework that seeks to remove barriers to those our current system continues to oppress, marginalize, and leave behind. The United States’ Declaration of Independence and the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution promise equality, equal protection, and due process for all its citizens, but the reality is that all people have never been equal in this country due to systemic racism. This oppression has created multiple racial inequities spanning most aspects of our society including education, housing, employment, healthcare, wealth, policing, and criminal justice.
CHNW acknowledges that ethnically marginalized groups and people of color, specifically Black and Indigenous people, continue to be oppressed here going back four and five hundred years (respectively) to the earliest days of chattel slavery and cultural genocide on this land, well before and after the founding of what is now the United States. Centuries later, Black communities still endure the ongoing police murders of unarmed Black people, have elevated COVID infections and mortality rates, have one of the highest unemployment rates, and are among the lowest high school and college graduation rates, to name a few. These outcomes are not accidental but are intentional by design and can be traced back through centuries of systemic racism. We believe Black Lives Matter.
At CHNW we push for racial equity, because we feel we can take concrete steps within our organization to close racial gaps. We also center racial equity work, because we recognize that people of color have different needs and circumstances due to systemic inequalities. The underlying goal of racial equity work is to create equal outcomes. Racial equality is a wonderful notion on paper as policy. Until we as a country can truly get there in practice, we must do our part in this racial equity work, as both an organization and institution within the larger U.S. social system.
The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.
– Ijeoma Oluo
Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has been happening within our organization for many years now, and since last summer we’ve been prioritizing our ongoing DEI work using a “race-first” framework, also known as “leading with race.” In June 2020, the CHNW Board of Directors moved to create an official racial equity committee at the recommendation and advocacy of a board member. This racial equity committee (REC), made of board members, residents, and CHNW leadership, has met monthly since August 2020 and has been a space to bounce ideas, share experiences, build a learning community, and envision together. The committee has launched a working group (WG), which is tasked with transforming the committee’s feedback into planning and action. These two groups will work in tandem within a feedback loop to mobilize ideas and create sustainable action for meaningful, equitable change. Feedback and collaboration have always been at the center of our core values.
We’ve determined that assessing our organization’s people, policies, procedures, and practices is the best place for us to start in this racial equity work. During the first quarter of 2021, we assessed multiple areas of our organization, including our employees, residents, resident councils, key documents, and our board of directors. It was important for us to examine these urgent CHNW areas to see how we can better support our people, to learn about their experiences, needs, and perspectives, and to see how we can better lead with race regarding everything we do. The results of those assessments are currently being drafted into a report, which will ultimately inform our recommendations and strategic planning. All the information that we gather in this process will ultimately inform CHNW’s first racial equity plan.
Through this page, it is our intention that CHNW’s racial equity work will:
1) Serve as a platform to raise awareness about racial equity within our organization and with our collaborators,
2) Provide engagement opportunities (e.g., workshops, trainings, and action groups) for our residents and employees,
3) Provide educational and local resources (e.g., community organizations, events, and learning opportunities) for our CHNW community members,
4) Demonstrate our commitment and values to racial equity within our organization, and
5) Be accountable for our commitment and values to racial equity.
Externalizing our efforts and increasing our visibility is the first step to demonstrating our commitment and asking that we be accountable to our employees and residents. It is our conviction that change does not happen overnight. Although racial equity work is urgent, it should not be rushed. We also acknowledge that this work will not be easy, and like all justice-oriented work, we expect some resistance. However, we are committed to pushing forward towards true organizational change despite challenges. We want this work to be thoughtful, engaging, collaborative, and inclusive. Equally important, we want it to be action-based. We will have regular updates to this process within the upcoming months and invite you to stay tuned to this page.
None of us alone can save the nation or the world. But each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.
– Dr. Cornel West