NTI Position Statement on Systemic Racism and Police Brutality
Some of us in our community have been having conversations and sharing stories with each other to talk about the effects of the most recent police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor — and the more general problem of police brutality and racial violence against Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). In our conversations, we’re allowing ourselves to be guided by questions like: What is our position? Who are we? Why are we doing this? We hope these questions guide our community in continuous reflection and action based on our values. These are positions we take as a community, specifically as a community of "helpers" and workers within the health care system. For us, these represent starting points for ongoing conversations about how we might live these ethics in our relationships and put them into action in the world.
We support accountability within institutions that perpetuate systemic racism including law enforcement, educational systems, prisons, and our own health care profession / system.
As a community of "helpers" working within a broader health care system, we want to acknowledge and hold ourselves responsible for how we relate within this system of health care and human services that treats people as sick when they are suffering from the effects of racial and social injustice. Too often, the health care system objectifies and reduces people to labels, pathologizes the effects of poverty and racism, and de-contextualizes and individualizes problems that are broad, pervasive, and systemic in nature.
We have seen structural racism permeate our health care system most recently within the context of the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit BIPOC communities disproportionately hard.
As a community, we stand against structural racism and its many effects and manifestations, which include devastating acts of physical violence as well as the explicit and implicit messages that some lives are more valuable than others. We do not support the dominant narratives (directed to people of color) that are consequences/sponsors of this structural racial violence, such as … "Your life does not matter,” and "You are expendable,” and ”You are not essential."
We support communities getting to decide how, when, and where they wish to respond to the injustices they experience. We support relating to people with curiosity about what it is they are caring about in their actions and expressions, including and especially acts of protest and resistance to oppression and injustice. We support the idea that every person is the expert of their own lived experience. We see healing and justice as linked and inseparabile.
We are interested in practices that are "de-blaming" of people subjected to abuse, violence, racism, oppression or marginalization. We work to bring these de-blaming practices into all our relationships, including therapy relationships. One of our community members, Guadalupe, recently shared a moving story of her work with a client where their conversations took them from the client blaming herself for her son's incarceration to the both of them being connected as mothers-of-color, looking out together at the broader system that targets and incarcerates Black men at unfathomable rates.
We will continue to work within our own community in projects we have been invited into by our Narrative Racial Healing and Liberation team, which will include ongoing and continued conversations about whiteness as well as ways we, both individually and collectively, can be more actively and explicitly anti-racist in our work, relationships, and communities.
We also commit to engaging in conversations that support and enrich our own stories of ally-ship and response so that we can be developing stronger identities from which to take anti-racist, de-colonizing action.
In recognition that words need actions to make them meaningful, we are creating forums inviting people to comment by telling a story or sharing about an action or step they have taken in response to the most recent episodes of our long history of racist violence. The hope with this is to make these actions visible as an antidote to despair and to help others find ways for themselves to take active anti-racist steps. This might also support the idea that no step is too small or too insignificant, ideas that can contribute to inertia or paralysis.
We share the belief together that "my life and your life are not separate” -- if we think of each person as a tree in a larger forest, with our roots intertwined together, then if even one tree is hurting by being targeted by violence, the entire forest is hurting. And trees with privilege have both opportunities and responsibilities to stand up for the forest and our more targeted trees in specific ways.
With love and hope for a more just world,
The NTI Community
P.S. If you identify as white, please post a comment that includes any actions that you have taken or will be taking in response to the murder of George Floyd and the 400-year-old racist virus. Show that we are working to be actively anti-racists. Steps might include donations, letters, marches, conversations, poems, music, videos, etc.