RACIAL JUSTICE COMMITMENT

The Staff and Board of Directors for Advocates of Routt County (“Advocates”), recognize that systemic racism and racial injustice are not merely a “hot-button” current event, but dehumanizing, oppressive forces that have been in play since before America was even a country. We acknowledge the need to embrace the anti-racist movement as an extension of the work we do to confront and prevent injustice in our community. Therefore, Advocates believe it is vital to publicly support the racial justice movement, and work to ensure respect and equity for the Black community and other marginalized individuals. This statement of our commitment to promote equity seeks to provide clarity around the Advocates’ position on these issues for staff, volunteers, directors, agency partners, funders, donors, and the community at large.

Every day we confront the scourge of gender-based violence and the oppressive forces that maintain a status quo allowing an immense amount of unnecessary suffering to continue through our society, unchecked. It is simple to draw parallels between racism and sexism, as each is based on power and control and each seeks to dehumanize entire populations. Too  frequently, these oppressive forces manifest in violence and victimization. Indeed, both racism and sexism are risk factors that drastically increase the probability of an individual being more vulnerable to sexual and domestic violence. Simply put, racial and gender justice must be recognized as cornerstones of public safety and prioritized everywhere, including within our work at Advocates.

Advocates is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion as one of our core values. We understand that people of all identities are, and may become, victims of violence, but that marginalized communities are affected the hardest. We will continuously look for ways to make sure victims of all identities feel welcome and comfortable in our office and through our services. We will also focus internal resources on recruitment, hiring, and professional development opportunities that support diversity and equity in our organization on all levels, from volunteers to our staff to our board and leadership.

Advocates is committed to ongoing conversations about race, oppression, and their intersection with domestic and sexual violence. We are dedicated to listening to those most affected by injustice and being guided by their perspectives. While these are not easy conversations, we must all continue to engage with them in order to, not only change the lived experiences of those impacted by racism and oppression, but to better serve our clients as a result. We have a responsibility to sit with discomfort, identify key issues, rally around solutions, and move forward despite potential discomfort. These actions will allow us to best serve victims through a victim-centered approach while amplifying our commitment to ending violence throughout our community.

Advocates is committed to having the courage to speak up about racial justice. It is easy to feel frozen and unable to speak out against racism and oppression, especially if you are in a position of privilege and power. Silence, however, fuels the wildfire of oppression. It is not an option to stay silent, and we have stayed silent for way too long. Advocates seeks to partner with communities of color as we work to eliminate racial disparities, both through our work and in our community. Advocates will intervene and speak out when racial injustice is present. As justice workers, we stand with victims and survivors of ALL violence and encourage communities everywhere to courageously take a stand for equity and justice.

As domestic and sexual violence victim advocates, we also recognize that our movement is not immune to enabling oppressive systems, even if unintentionally. Advocates is committed to understanding past missteps in our work and eradicating racial disparities throughout the systems affecting the victims we serve directly and indirectly. We recognize privilege and oppression are deeply rooted within the systems in which we work. Therefore, we support the Black Lives Matter movement in its calls for greater social change. We support efforts to improve public and private safety for all through social work, mental health, and community organizations. And we welcome opportunities to improve our own journey towards greater understanding, even when being challenged reckons with our own implicit biases and white fragility.

Advocates enthusiastically joins the generations of those devoted to creating a safer, more equitable future for our community, our society, and for our loved ones by speaking out against cruelty and mistreatment in all its forms. Together, we can cultivate tolerance, dignity, respect, opportunity, equity, and greater safety for every person, regardless of their identity.