I am writing you on behalf of Open Door’s Executive Team to address the recent murder of George Floyd. We offer our deepest condolences to the Floyd family. George Floyd’s murder is not an isolated incident. Black people are not safe jogging, birdwatching, sleeping, barbequing, standing, or simply being. We acknowledge that Black people and People of Color experience violence every day and all over the country, based on their race. Our acknowledgement of the current and historical events in our country includes the violence against Black people in particular, and injustices experienced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities (BIPOC) and people who are marginalized because of their identities. We are compelled to be accountable to anti-racism; racism is counter to Open Door’s mission and 50 year commitment to social justice.
To our Black staff – your life and lives of your families matter. We acknowledge the ongoing threats to safety that you face. The depth and breadth of your experience cannot truly be understood by those who have not lived it. We see you and are committing to stand with you. You belong at Open Door. We recognize that you may be experiencing deep pain and trauma. The work you do at Open Door is important and we invite you to prioritize your well-being. The events of the last two weeks have made it clear that we must develop more resources to support our staff. It is important to us that you are able to ask for what you need, either from your supervisor or another leader at Open Door, including me. We welcome your input regarding what action we can take to make Open Door an excellent place for you to work. We value your voices, and we also recognize it is not the responsibility of Black people to educate others on anti-racism in the work place or in our communities.
To all staff – Open Door was created to help level the playing field, to help in the work to bring care and dignity to all people. To strive for equality and justice has been in our DNA from the beginning. Open Door’s moral compass guides us in our commitment to do even more and we ask that you join us in this commitment.
Our first step is to make an overt stance against racism: racism has no place at Open Door. We must commit to developing a racial equity and inclusion plan for the organization, including more robust training for all staff and policies that support anti-racism. Our plan and related policies must make clear Open Door’s zero tolerance for racism, bigotry, or hate speech from staff or patients. Our plan must also clearly outline how staff are to participate in advancing this work. There is a small group of staff, the Racial Equity Collaborative (REC), who are self-organized. The REC are advocating for working to embed racial equity practices organizationally to ensure that all community members and staff feel safe and that they belong. The Leadership Team will collaborate with the REC to move this important work forward. Part of this collaboration will include a communications plan and transparency with staff. We must also prioritize developing spaces and systems to engage in dialogue with staff about anti-racism work, and make those venues readily available for staff participation.
For staff who are hurting or who are looking for actions to take – currently we are able to offer the services of the Employee Assistance Program, and we will post links on the portal for people who want to learn more about anti-racism. We do not yet have all the answers. We know there is so much we do not know and that we will make mistakes. We know there is hard work to be done. In order to do our good work together, we must be willing to have challenging conversations. We will keep having this conversation as we continue to do our good work together.
Black lives matter.
Tory Starr, MSN, PHN, RN
Open Door Chief Executive Officer