One of the many takeaways from the protests and response to George Floyd’s death is that we need to continue to stretch ourselves – to stretch ourselves to learn more about what we don’t know, to learn more about who we’re missing from the table, and to learn more about how the systems we work with operate, but also and most importantly, how we might unknowingly or unconsciously perpetuate the embedded racism within them. Our implicit bias is a strong and often silent force.
We have previously shared books (early readers, independent readers, advanced readers), films, nonprofits, and organizations that we have turned to as well as a bit about our experience with the Equal Justice Initiative. But there are many more voices that need to be amplified and ways that we can be more conscious about our own privileges and advantages.
We have learned that we have a number of resources at our disposal, and we can be much more intentional about how we ‘dispose’ of them. Who authored the content we are reading and sharing with clients is one way we will be more thoughtful, for example. Our reliance on traditional credentials like university or institutional backing for expertise is also something we will reconsider in exchange for lived experience. And across our work, we have learned that we can be more aware of centering the voices of those we are trying to help. Giving them real decision-making power, avoiding tokenizing or trivializing their experiences, and respecting the value-add that they bring to our work.
Another element we have been reminded of and are leaning into deeply is that racism and discrimination are unfortunately omnipresent across our society. The intersectionality between race and other factors is real. Understanding the complexities and also teasing them out when appropriate is important to acknowledge and address. There are many marginalized groups, most of which we have supported through Starfish Impact’s work – from underprivileged children to individuals experiencing homelessness and hunger. These groups each deserve their own support and respect of their lived experience. We will continue to work for those that have been ignored, pushed down, or have slipped through the cracks of our communities and their social safety net.
But we now better understand how important it is to not conflate the black experience with racism and police brutality with that of others who have experienced their own racism or discrimination. The facts, systemic injustices, and experiences are wildly different and most critically, we can acknowledge one without taking away from the other. That we can elevate one without ignoring the other. And that we can see their intersections, as most individuals’ identities are multifaceted, and respect the complexities and multitudes that an individual possesses.
We are continuing to learn and commit to offering more than just words in the coming days, weeks, and months. Social justice has always been a core part of what brings us to the social sector and will continue to drive our work. You can expect us to:
- Proactively welcome BIPOC into our work, as clients, colleagues, and co-conspirators in breaking down systemic injustices; and
- Passing the microphone and offering our resources and privilege; and
- Humbling ourselves to recognizing that there is still so much we don’t know or understand; and
- Sharing opportunities with the Starfish community to learn, engage, and actively be anti-racist (more on some tangible steps you can join us in being an active, anti-racist ally next week)
Sign up here to receive the highlights from the Starfish Impact blog in your inbox.