After a long election night, it is clear that we continue to be a country that is divided. As a result, we thought it critical to share an update on our commitment at CBHL to address systemic racism and openly discuss and acknowledge the impact this has on our communities. We are writing today to give you an update on our work.
When the CBHL Board of Directors met in June to determine the action we would commit to taking to address systemic racism, we began by acknowledging that racism is baked into the core of the United States and that we were each committed to addressing the impact of racism, class, and privilege on our communities, especially among communities of color. We also acknowledged the need to articulate and communicate values of social justice and equity as the core of all of our initiatives, to host difficult conversations and consider the compounding impacts of racism and white supremacy on our work, and to remember not to over-complicate, but to start somewhere.
As a Board we discussed specific potential opportunities for organizational commitment, but realized that we didn’t know exactly where to start, and struggled a bit to determine the best course of action. It was this realization that prompted us to – as a first and immediate step – engage a consultant to help clarify how we as a Board and an organization would take action to adequately and appropriately address racism as the primary root cause of inequity in health, social and wellbeing outcomes, ground our strategies with a focus on achieving equity and reducing disparities, and share our learnings and opportunities for transformation across disciplines with members.
We held two affinity groups among board members and a workshop – Exploring Whiteness and Systemic Racism – over the last few months, and have made an organizational commitment to continuing this work. As we engage with our members and launch new initiatives – including the creation of our Center for Leadership Innovation – we are committed to supporting and developing leaders committed to creating equitable systems for all.
We look forward to sharing more about our work to address racism in the coming months. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Holly or to one of us with your thoughts, concerns, or questions.
Wendy Varnell, LCSW, CBHL Board President
Alicia Smith, MHA, CBHL Board President-Elect