“It is not our differences that divide us.
It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
June 19th, 2020 – Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity is more than just a housing organization. We believe that no matter who you are, or where you come from, everyone deserves to have a decent life. We all deserve to feel strength, safety and stability day after day; we all deserve the opportunity for a better future. For the Black community, this opportunity is, and always has been, systemically denied.
We recognize the deep trauma and marginalization caused by institutional racism on Black people, Indigenous people and People of Color (BIPOC). We know that as an organization, we have work to do. We are committed to growing our anti-racism practices by listening and learning from disenfranchised and oppressed communities, lifting up their voices and actively working to dismantle racism. We must commit to bringing equity to all aspects of our organization. We must do a better job of connecting issues of racial injustice with historic barriers to fair and affordable housing, and do everything in our power to eradicate those barriers.
In Kalamazoo alone, there is an enormous racial disparity in homeownership. Of the 67,276 owner-occupied homes in Kalamazoo, only 3,523 are Black-owned (American Community Survey, 2018). This is a result of long-standing, historic discrimination in U.S. housing policy. The overwhelming denial of the basic human right to shelter is one of the major drivers of racial inequities that continue to this day. We must understand our history, learn from it, grow from it and let it ignite our passion and inform our work.
We stand in solidarity with today’s demonstrators. We affirm and support the anger, anguish, and strife that is becoming increasingly visible in our communities, born of deeply ingrained racism and oppression. We cannot hide, we must engage. We must continue to have the difficult conversations, be willing to confront our own biases and take tangible action to end discrimination everywhere we see it. We cannot slow down; we must keep advocating.
As we take up this work, we are reflecting on the list below, endorsed by the leaders of Habitat for Humanity International’s Black Employee Success Team resource group. We offer it to you for consideration as well.
- Seek out and listen to local Black-led organizations and leadership. Know your history.
- Commit to naming, understanding and uprooting all forms of racism and white supremacy.
- Be actively anti-racist in every facet of your life.
- Support the Black Lives Matter movement and organizations on the front lines.
- Advocate for racial equity and social justice reform.
- Register to vote and VOTE!
- Complete the census.
- Research and learn about Juneteenth.
- The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein
- NPR: “The Color of Law” Details How Housing Policies Created Segregation
- Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
- White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, by Carol Anderson
- Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Understanding White Privilege: Creating Pathways to Authentic Relationships Across Race, by Frances Kendall
- How to Be an Anti-Racist, by Ibram X. Kendi
- Stamped, by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
- So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, by Beverly Daniel Tatum
- White Like Me: Reflections on Race From a Privileged Son, by Tim Wise
- The Atlantic: The Case for Reparations
- The Marshall Project: Bryan Stevenson on Charleston and Our Real Problem With Race
- The New York Times: Turning the call for racial reckonings back on the U.S.