Here I share the interim statement on racism that the Board of OCP approved at its last meeting: 

“As a direct impact of the national and global focus on police violence and anti-Black racism, Our Community Place is working internally to learn how we can operate as an anti-racist organization. Our board and staff are engaging in ongoing, and often difficult dialogues, and engaging outside assistance to support us in our journey. It is our desire to become more aware and aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement so we can become more effective as an agent of change in our community.”

As I reflect on this statement, I recognize that racism and bias is ingrained in each of us. When I hire people of color as case managers, then it is easier to reach community members who are people of color—it’s just easier for them to connect, there is a higher level of trust, greater understanding, better cultural understanding, and less fear. As a manager, it’s critical for me to hire both whites and people of color then as OCP case managers. The same applies to housing—I’ve observed that if we don’t make conscious efforts to think of people of color when we are choosing housing placements, they tend to get left out. So being aware of our own biases and how that can result in fewer services, fewer housing opportunities, and fewer job refers for people of color, being aware of this means we can try to correct for these problems, including making efforts to hire people of color into management positions in addition to whites. It is a simple matter of equity and justice. One result of OCP beginning to reflect on racism at the organizational level is we are arranging a series of anti-racism trainings for staff and board so we can become a better and more effective organization. How? By serving everyone better, by making OCP more comfortable and safer for people who are minorities, by doing a better job of providing equal opportunity.  

OCP has selected a consulting group (Cambium) to work with for trainings. We are now seeking funding beyond our usual sources of income to cover the costs for a series of trainings and discussions for staff and Board. 

Sam Nickels, executive director, OCP