Anti-racism steps: An update to the community

By ana-maria

The Phinney Neighborhood Association (PNA) is an organization that took root 40 years ago in a primarily white community. We understand this is our history and take it on as our challenge. Institutional and systemic racism runs deep and cuts sharp in our own communities and in our own organization. Recently, we have become even more painfully aware of this fact. We have heard the hurt, pain, and disappointment from our community and we are listening. We are committed to becoming an anti-racist organization.

Right now, the PNA is looking hard to discover the systems of racism that exist in the organization and how to dismantle them and rebuild. This is hard work to do and we are looking inward and outward, discussing, and committing to making change.

Since our last update from Lee Harper in The Review newspaper, members of the Board and the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee have met and begun the journey of examining all facets of the organization to identify systemic racism so we can do better. We will invite others to join in this work as we broaden the scope of the committee to include members of the community. We will also engage the assistance of outside consultants who have expertise in helping nonprofits address racial equity. We will then take the necessary steps to repair, improve, and build where we need to.

Recently, the EDI committee also had a listening session with our former executive director, Dar’Nesha Weary, to hear and understand her experience and learn from it. We thank her for sharing with us and we will incorporate these lessons into our ongoing work. This process is just beginning.

Additionally, as individuals within the organization, we are working to better understand the roots of white supremacy and how they form systemic racism. Our entire board of directors and staff leadership team has committed to going through PNA’s Breaking White Silence study group on racial literacy. This program consists of deep-dive discussions of white privilege and racism using Robin DiAngelo’s book What Does It Mean to Be White: Developing White Racial Literacy as a guide.

We know these are just the first steps as we tackle the challenge of becoming a truly anti-racist organization. There will be many more. We hope you, our community, will support us in the days and months ahead as we take on this work.