The events of the last weeks have left so many of us struggling to find our way through enormous anger, sadness, dismay, and fear. Our continuing national legacy of racist violence against Black people and of devaluing the lives of people of color in the U.S. compel us to affirm that we stand strongly against hatred and injustice.
Racialized violence once again exposes brutal inequities in how people are treated based on race. And – as has been laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic – white supremacy and systemic racism are devastating to the health and well-being of communities of color.
As an organization that was conceived and built to serve oppressed communities and to support and advance the health and well-being of the people who count on us, Fenway Health cannot deliver effectively on our mission without advancing racial equity and justice. We must work actively to become an anti-racist organization – a multi-dimensional, long-term (indeed, never-ending) commitment that includes the following efforts:
- Listening closely, engaging in honest discussion and dialogue among ourselves and within the communities we serve and making changes as we learn and grow.
- Developing an actionable equity lens through which to guide our decisions and practices.
- Valuing and incorporating the voices of our patients, staff, and the communities we serve to ensure that we design our care and services effectively to advance health and well-being in a manner that integrates racial equity considerations and other social determinants of health.
- Ensuring that our research is accessible, inclusive, and designed to address intersectional questions impacting the communities we serve.
- Bearing witness, speaking up, and advocating strongly to dismantle racist systems and policies that amplify inequities, including health disparities. We recently joined over 100 LGBTQIA+ organizations in a statement of unity against racial violence.
- Honing our capacity to deliver trauma-informed care and services to our patients and clients, and to incorporate a trauma-informed approach to supporting our staff as well.
- Developing and promoting equitable hiring policies and leadership cultivation opportunities at all levels of our organization and creating a culture of belonging at Fenway Health.
While not a solution unto themselves, quotes can be a powerful invitation to presence and to action. In that spirit, we’d like to share this poem by Micky ScottBey Jones, Director of Healing & Resilence Initiatives with the Southern-based collective Faith Matters Network:
Together we will create brave space,
Because there is no such thing as “safe space.”
We exist in the real world,
We all carry scars and we have all caused wounds.
In this space
We seek to turn down the volume of the outside world,
We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere,
We call each other to more truth and love.
We have the right to star somewhere and continue to grow.
We have the responsibility to examine what we think and know.
We will not be perfect.
This space will not be perfect.
It will not always be what we wish it to be.
It will be our brave space together,
We will work on it side by side.
– Ellen LaPointe
CEO, Fenway Health