It’s appalling, frustrating and disheartening that such a statement needs to be made. However, the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other black people as well as the legacy of violence and hate against black people in America, have made it necessary. We also recognize that racism is not merely overt violence, but also woven into our systems, our institutions, our language, and our internal biases, conscious and unconscious.
Racism is also present in our silence. We can no longer let our fear of offending, of making a mistake, of saying the wrong thing prevent us from doing what is right.
Community Action fights poverty. And because of the intersection of poverty and race, we must also fight racism. Ending poverty in Oregon means addressing the systemic biases and injustices that cause poverty.
Black people face discrimination in housing, employment, health care, justice, education, and access to food. Take a minute to think about that last sentence – your home, your job, your health, your safety, your school, and what you eat are ALL affected by the color of your skin.
Community Action Partnership of Oregon’s core values include equity and racial justice. We are committed to exposing and ending racism in our work – both in the discrimination faced by black Oregonians who receive support from Community Action and in the biases in our internal operations and structures.
Our current strategic plan includes these points:
- Naming structural racism as a cause of poverty.
- Diversifying our capacity to advocate for resources that fund innovative solutions addressing the conditions and systemic root causes of poverty (including racism).
- Advocate for ongoing training, technical assistance, and resources for network members to promote and advance racial equity.
- Provide support for and hold Community Action Agencies accountable to considering and integrating issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion through all their service delivery.
- Adopt a theory of change for CAPO’s work that is grounded in racial equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Finally, we recognize the importance of making space for black voices and leadership. We will listen and learn from those who are on the front lines of this fight and are generously sharing their time, experiences, and ideas to educate and guide the efforts of allies like CAPO. We hope you’ll join us in this work to realize our vision for inclusive and caring communities across Oregon where people have equitable access to the services and resources they need to thrive and are able to meet their own goals.