We are left to reckon with the reality of the insurgent mob that violently stormed our nation’s capital. They threatened the lives of our nation’s leaders. And they boldly displayed symbols of hate toward persons who have already endured hatred throughout our history: Black, Indigenous and people of color, non-Christian religious communities, LGBTQ+ communities, and others.
Many of us were shocked at the audacity and violence of this event. Sadly, this is our America and this attack was not “out of the blue.” The mostly-white mob displayed all the hate and deep-seated racism and white supremacy that has persisted throughout our history. These ugly truths have been seen clearly by Black, Indigenous and people of color for centuries.
So, what does this have to do with domestic violence?
“An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
– MLK, Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963
The roots of power, control and dominance lie at the center of domestic abuse. They are the same roots that lead to racism, hate and violence. These compounding forms of oppression intersect in the lives of Black survivors. This leaves them with heightened barriers to navigate and fewer options for safety when abuse happens. That’s why Black women are three times more at risk of dying from domestic violence than white women.
“To influence a culture where all people feel safe and valued in their relationships.”
– Safe Harbor’s Vision Statement
Safe Harbor takes seriously the words “all people” in our vision statement. We are keenly aware that we cannot fulfill our vision unless we face the real experiences of people who have been historically overlooked, marginalized and threatened. We cannot continue to hear stories of oppression, violence and hate directed at persons of color and assume that our clients, staff, board members, volunteers, community partners and supporters who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color are unaffected. We cannot be neutral or silent when we see white supremacy and systemic racism happening in our nation and local communities.
We cannot assume that our agency is naturally seen as a safe place by persons who are regularly betrayed and dehumanized by many systems and institutions. We can no longer assume that it is enough for Safe Harbor to be “not racist.” As Angela Davis said, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.”
Safe Harbor staff have been working to understand what inclusion and equity really means in our workplace and in our culture.
Though Safe Harbor is one organization with one mission, it is made up by many people with different backgrounds. We are all learning about the deeper meanings of the terms white supremacy and anti-racism. And we recognize that our white staff’s learning looks far different from our staff who are Black, Indigenous and people of color, who have first-hand experience of discrimination. Some of us are tired of holding the truth of racism. Others of us are just now beginning to gain an awareness of how white supremacy is baked into our culture. And, we are learning how it has allowed white people to benefit from systems that have oppressed our neighbors.
The work that we are doing is often difficult and cumbersome. But, we believe it is only by confronting the racism that exists in our communities, systems and even within our own lives that we can move toward becoming an anti-racist, multicultural organization, living up to our trauma-informed principles.
“Ours is not the struggle of one day, one week, or one year. Ours is not the struggle of one judicial appointment or presidential term. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, or maybe even many lifetimes, and each one of us in every generation must do our part.”
– John Lewis
We are grateful to you, our friends and supporters, for believing in the work we do. By supporting the work against violence and toward a more equitable and safe future for every person, you are joining this fight for respect, for equity, for a culture where everyone feels safe and valued. As we continue this work, we will keep you informed of the things we learning and the steps we are taking.