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NEW Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field

Overview

NEW Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field

Read the Partnership’s June 10th statement, Looking In the Mirror – Reckoning with Inequities in Our Own Movement. This informs our blog series.

Centering the voices of Black, Native & Indigenous, and people of color is our path toward truly challenging the norms of racial inequities and violence that we want to end—and moving toward collective liberation. Today, with deep gratitude to the authors, we are sharing three blog posts that expose real issues of white supremacy plaguing our movement. We pause to listen to a colleague who has been silenced and pushed out of the field. We learn about the experience of an advocate who has worked to achieve meaningful equity in their organization, even in the face of opposition. We explore an account from an aspiring white ally who is grappling with sharing power, challenging their own leadership style, and wanting to do more.

Healing and collective liberation start with naming the root causes and impacts across lifespans and generations. Historically, storytelling has been an act of liberation and resilience, and these blogs create an intentional space for centering voices that have always existed, yet haven’t always been heard. It is the movement’s responsibility to listen. These pieces were written with vulnerability and courage, by colleagues who have collaborated in the Culturally Specific Collaborative and the Culturally Responsive Organizational Self-Assessment. We ask you to consider how their experiences are reflected throughout the movement as a result of overt and covert racism. After reading them, we’d be grateful to hear your thoughts.

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Life as a Native Queer Policy Nerd: Embracing Tough Conversations That Need to Be Had, written by Christine Smith
Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field - October 30, 2020

I’m Christine Smith. I’m an enrolled member of the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, and descended from the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians. I’m the daughter of Kim and Weldon, stepdaughter of Jeff. I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Native American Studies, and I have a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco. For the last four years, I’ve worked as the Public Policy Coordinator at the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. I’m a survivor of domestic violence. I’m a proud puppy and kitten mama. A queer woman. A soccer player. A quilter and crafter. Professional coach-in-training. Portland Thorns fan.

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Navigating Power and Privilege In A Coalition Policy Space, written by Krista Niemczyk
Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field - October 30, 2020

I love what I do. Leading the Partnership’s policy team, I get to work closely with our entire membership, our national partners, the state Capitol community, and our Congressional delegation. It is never, never boring. It’s filled with opportunity to have large scale positive impact, and fraught with potential for large scale harm.

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When Helpers Harm: Racial Violence in State Coalitions, written by Devin Olivia Rojas, MS, MSW
Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field - October 30, 2020

I worked at a state sexual violence coalition in the northeastern part of the United States for two years. I was beyond excited at the opportunity- my mother was a first-generation college student and my grandmother was not even able to complete her elementary education. In three generations, we went from migrant worker, to administrative assistant, to nationally recognized expert employed by a state coalition. This was an opportunity to advocate for the generations of my people harmed by colonization, racism, and xenophobia. To do the work our people and communities need- to push our issues to the top of a state agenda on issues of sexual violence. I believed in this organization, one whose work I had followed when I worked the frontlines providing direct services to survivors. One that spoke boldly of intersectionality, speaking truth to power, and dismantling systems of oppression so that we can all thrive. I believed this would be a place where I could finally do the work women like me, like my mother, like my grandmother needed.

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Racial Injustice, Domestic Violence and the Shelter Movement, written by Carolyn Russell MA, MSW
Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field - September 28, 2020

Domestic violence has been defined as a pattern of coercive, aggressive, and violent behavior and California laws make it a “crime” to harm an intimate partner. Though men are survivors of abuse, it is women and girls who have been disproportionately impacted for centuries by this epidemic of global violence, rooted in a hierarchical, oppressive society that continues to create societal attitudes and beliefs about how intimate partners should be treated. Racial injustice contributed to this hierarchy and negatively impacts the fight against domestic violence and intimate partner abuse so this is a good moment to examine policies, procedures and historical practices and the way in which they impact black families.

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One of the “Good White People”, written by Nancy Lemon
Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field - September 28, 2020

I grew up being told that we were the good, non-racist white people, unlike those bad, racist white people (often from the South) who supported the KKK and lynching, and opposed busing for integrated schools and integrating neighborhoods.

In the 1950’s my father, a minister, hosted a prominent African American gospel singer, who planned to stay in our home in rural Illinois after her concert. I now realize this arrangement was in part because there was no hotel that would rent a room to her. My father told me that the police chief came to meet with him and tell him the singer had to leave town before nightfall, under the Sundown Laws/practices. My father, raised in Chicago, was shocked and refused to agree to tell the singer to leave. Fortunately, there were no negative consequences for the singer or for our family.

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I Am Here to Stay and Take On Anyone Steering Away from the Route of Equity. For the Survivors and for Myself. Written by Zakia Afrin.
Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field - August 26, 2020

“———it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or fragments of their imagination-indeed, everything and anything except me”.
Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man

I came to the United States after living a privileged life in Bangladesh, country born in 1971 in South Asia. My ancestors lived through colonial rules, bloodied partition, genocide, rape camps like many others in the region and we continue to battle the forces inflicting religious strife, political oppression. I say this to remind myself that it’s not easy to break my spirit.

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Blog Q & A: Bridging the Gap between the Real Self and the Ideal Self, written by Tina Rodriguez
Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field - August 26, 2020

Describe the ways you have been working to make your organization/the field more equitable. What drives your work?

How I work to maximize equity is through teaching accountability. I understand that oppression is in our history, in systems, and in this field. I abandoned the checklist approach to embrace what I call a culture shift. Improving equity is not going to happen with a once a year conference or webinar. Becoming more equitable is a lifetime commitment to daily measurable practices. I have helped organizations in the Central Valley understand that the commitment required is ongoing. I recently had a colleague share an accomplishment that she achieved of getting a position funded to do advocacy for farmworkers. I reminded her that the next goal was to elevate that position to a management level. We can’t just create positions rooted in diversity; we have to elevate them. That’s the difference between a checklist approach and a culture shift.

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Blog Q & A: Being Unaware is in No Way Blissful, it’s Harmful. Written by Jill Zawisza
Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field - August 26, 2020

I’ll start by saying I know writing this piece in no way makes me ‘better’ than any other white person. I don’t set any standard, clearly. I was asked to write this blog and am taking it seriously. I’m going to be completely honest about myself, and what I hope to see in our field. It will be filled with imperfection. Mistakes. Misgivings. I hope to read it again in a year, and cringe because I’ve continued to unlearn my racism, and evolve my behaviors. That being said, here’s what I have to say on July 16, 2020.

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Silence Isn’t Always Golden, written by Dr. Yasi Safinya-Davies
Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field - July 30, 2020

There have been a few pivotal moments in my life when leaving was me taking back my power. The first time, I was 21 and finally left a violent relationship that started the summer before my junior year in high school. Most recently, I quietly departed from the DV movement. I hadn’t reflected on the significance of my soundless exit until May 26th when I read a CNN article about Amy Cooper, who exercised her white privilege to call the police with a fabricated story of being attacked by a Black man because he had the audacity to ask that she adhere to the Central Park rules and place her dog on a leash.

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Intent is Different than Impact, written by Jeanne Spurr
Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field - July 30, 2020

Intent is different than impact. And both are important.

Working to become a white ally is not a task to be taken lightly. You will be challenged to the very core of your being as you begin to recognize your privilege – the unearned advantages you have in life that our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) friends and colleagues do not have – simply because of the color of your skin. You will have to examine and “unlearn” many closely held beliefs. In the process, your heart will be deeply bruised – healing slowly with forward movement and growth that may take a lifetime.

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Uniting My Voice with Others for the Change We Need to See, written by Esther Peralez-Dieckmann
Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field - July 30, 2020

As the brutality and racism of the murder of George Floyd and countless other Black people over the course of the last year reverberates around the world, I feel an overwhelming sense of remembrance. I feel triggered and greatly saddened because these issues are not new. They feel familiar…the trauma, the anger, the fear, frustration and desperation….all of it. I had put it away in the box that I call “the 70’s” and moved on with my life. Things were crazy back then.

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Reflections on Tokenism, written by Constance Athayde
Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field - July 10, 2020

Tokenism. It is a sneaky perpetuation of inequity facilitated by those enjoying the benefits of privilege. I label it as “sneaky” because it so easily shape-shifts from person-to-person and organization-to-organization. The nods and uhm-hmms are just smoke and mirrors to keep a person, specifically a BIPOC, lost as to what is going on behind closed doors.

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Creating an organizational culture that highlights collaboration over competition, written by Alan*
Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field - July 10, 2020

*The author of this piece chose the pseudonym Alan to protect against retaliation.

I remember standing in an auditorium in Dallas, Texas a few years ago with over 1,000 attendees at an international conference on intimate partner violence. I remember looking around at the predominantly white men and women in suits who proudly placed their hands upon their hearts as they recited the Pledge of Allegiance. “I’m not in California anymore!” I joked to myself as I suppressed every urge I had to run past the walls of suits, the badges, and the elaborate displays of morning pastries and coffee stations – all while an American Idol contestant sang the “Star Spangled Banner” on stage.

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To my white colleagues: I can’t give up. You can’t either. Written by May Rico
Blog Series: Confronting Inequities in Our Field - July 10, 2020

To my white colleagues:

I work very hard at being someone I can respect. I treat others the way I want to be treated. I give others the chances I want to be given. I make space for others that I want to be made for me. And when I mess up, and I do a lot, I learn from it and move forward instead of giving up. That’s a person I can respect. That’s who I work to be.

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Seeking Participants for the Partnership’s Aspiring White Allyship Group and Its Advisory Committee

Most often, Black, Native & Indigenous, and people of color are speaking up about inequitable policies and practices in organizations. For white folks, sitting back is no longer an option. The Aspiring White Allyship group is developing a project that has come out of the DV field’s inconsistent response to Black people being killed by law enforcement and the failure to respond to the needs of Black, Native & Indigenous, and other staff of color.

If you are an aspiring white ally, we’re seeking your participation in addressing the inequities that staff of color face, while holding yourself accountable to challenge white supremacy within the field. To hold the White Allyship Group accountable, we invite Black women, Native & Indigenous women, Latinas, Asian & Pacific Islander women, and other women of color to participate in the Advisory Committee. We’re looking forward to your participation! Sign up below.

➜ Sign up for the Aspiring White Allyship Group

➜ Sign Up for the Advisory Group 

For more information, please contact Alejandra Aguilar at Alejandra@cpedv.org

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