In case there were ever any doubts, it’s clear that racism and bigotry are alive and well in America. Nearly one week ago, I shared my thoughts on the importance of supporting the protests, fighting systemic injustice, and standing up for what is right, and as I have listened and reflected there’s more I want to share.
As an organization that works in the recovery space, we have not just an opportunity, but a duty to uphold our mission of supporting communities, families and transforming stigmas. A large portion of those stigmas are due to the unjust incarceration of primarily BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) people, many of whom suffer from Substance Use Disorder (SUD). For BIPOC people, instead of treating SUD as the legitimate lifelong chronic disease that it is, they are all too often instead unjustly tossed into a criminal justice system, perpetuating stigmas, stereotypes, and racism that have existed for hundreds of years. Indeed, despite whites and people of color using drugs at similar rates, BIPOC people are 5 times more likely to be arrested for it.
If you are BIPOC, we love you, we see you, we hear you, and know that one of the most important things we can do at this time is listen to your words. We can do better, I can do better, we all can do better and we wholeheartedly and earnestly commit to doing better, not just now, but long after the protests and the news headlines dwindle.
If you are not a BIPOC person, please educate and mobilize. Below are resources I have found helpful as I have sought to educate and mobilize myself:
Finally I want to share my optimism in the response from our team at WEconnect. I have witnessed employees standing up, protesting, seeking to learn, to understand, showing humility, and challenging us all to be better and showing an understanding that it is critical that we all make changes to be part of the solution going forward. This is about more than just continuing and improving our commitments to a diverse and inclusive work environment, safe space and meaningful dialogue. We are firmly committed to taking productive actions to dismantle the climate that has resulted in the systemic racism that we face.
As the leader of this organization I felt it was important to speak out, and I hope that others in our industry sincerely do too.