Systemic racism is widespread and pervasive throughout America and tightly woven into the fabric of our society, our culture, our cities and towns. It is embedded in our educational, judicial and correctional systems and in our businesses, civic organizations and religious institutions.
The Housing Collective is no exception and as a leader of this organization since 2006 I take personal responsibility for these failings, largely through neglect and silence, which is as destructive and harmful as overt acts of racism. Systemic racism, discrimination, and the ongoing oppression of people of color have created marginalized communities in which people are denied opportunities for economic mobility, family stabilization and general good health. The evidence speaks for itself.
- Whites hold over 90% of the wealth in America while blacks own less than 3 %.
- Black unemployment is persistently double that of
- Blacks represent 13% of the general population but 40% of the prison population.
- Black college graduation rate is 38% while whites is 63%.
- Black homeownership is 41% while that of whites is 72%.
- Blacks are five times as likely to become homeless than
- Blacks are 2 to 3 times more likely to get infected, to be hospitalized and die from COVID 19 than whites.
So, what can I and The Housing Collective do to be a committed and resolute participant and partner in dismantling racism in our organizations, in our communities, in our state and in our nation? Today, as I start on what I know to be a long awakening journey, I commit:
- To acknowledge my own privilege and recognize and reflect on both the subtle and overt impact of racism on people of color every day, through reading, listening and engaging people of color and those with lived experience in open and frank conversations.
- To work hard to personally and publicly validate historically marginalized communities and to acknowledge the collective and individual trauma of Black Americans, Native Americans, Latino Americans and other people of color.
- To provide an open and accommodating organizational culture.
- To provide resources to ensure continuous education, reflection and dialogue to actively dismantle structural racism within the housing sector.
- To develop innovative and effective strategies to recruit, hire, train and elevate employees of color and to break barriers for growth and leadership.
- To steadily increase diversity in leadership positions within The Housing Collective and throughout our housing system.
- To use our influence at The Housing Collective as a collective impact backbone organization to promote racial equity and to use data to prioritize resources to dismantle racism throughout the housing system.
I respect honor and cherish all of you and value the diverse perspectives you bring in our efforts to house our most vulnerable neighbors. This will not be an easy process for The Housing Collective, but I commit to you personally to be tenacious, relentless and resourceful and to use the collective power and social capital of The Housing Collective to effect meaningful impactful change for as long as I stay a part of this wonderful organization that is on a path to be ever more accommodating, courageous, and pathbreaking.
David B. Rich
President and CEO
The Housing Collective