From Executive Director, Kristel Applebee
June 12, 2020
Racism – let’s talk about it. The Consortium has a 45-year history of creating conditions for community by deeply listening to wisdom gained from those who have made meaning of their life experience, or, what we call lived experience. Our Mission:
The Consortium creates conditions in which people with lived experience pursue their dreams & strengthen our communities through full participation.
speaks directly to lived experience and how our communities are strengthened when people have adequate resources and support to pursue their dreams by experiencing full participation. So, the question is, if this is our mission, what are the hurdles toward enacting it fully? Why are some people (employees, community members, etc.) left behind from fully participating, and what is our responsibility in addressing these hurdles?
While we strongly value inclusion and actively work each and every day to create welcoming environments that invite a sense of belonging and opportunities to heal, recent racial brutality and the horrific killing of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of a law officer has shown us once again that it’s not enough to merely focus on inclusion.
We must work collectively at valuing a culture of anti-racism as hard as we are at creating conditions for inclusion. We welcome differences and diverse perspectives, as long as those beliefs don’t contribute to the oppression of another, in a society where monoculturalism is the norm.
Since racism is institutional, structural and individual, we must address these complex layers simultaneously to work toward a more just world. Learning conversations need to happen in our work spaces – not just at a diversity training, but in an ongoing daily way. The emotional labor that comes with this work needs to be fairly distributed among all, especially those of us who identify as white, otherwise racism is perpetuated and the work is left to those who experience the oppression. We are reviewing our current strategy, internal plans, trainings and practices related to inclusion to determine how we can incorporate a more intensified focus using concrete skills and action steps toward combatting injustice.
Racism divides – we must unite in combatting it by not being silent, and by investing in educating ourselves, having courageous conversations, and dismantling systems that perpetuate it while assuring measures of accountability are in place and upheld. Today, not only do we re-commit to our work on inclusion – we also commit to actively valuing and creating a culture of anti-racism and vigilantly combatting injustice.
The Western Massachusetts Training Consortium, founded in 1975, is a learning organization, committed to creating conditions in which people with lived experience pursue their dreams and strengthen our communities through full participation. As part of this mission, the Consortium is sharing an anti-racism resources guide compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein. Said guide is meant to “serve as a resource to white people and parents to deepen our anti-racism work. If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, start now.” Learn, follow through with action, and share widely so others can do the same.