A Letter to Our Staff Regarding Racism

What do you see?

I see pain. I see trauma. I see anger. I see fear.

I see oppression. I see injustice. I see systemic racism.

As a white woman, I am protected by privilege. I can never truly understand what people of color feel and experience every day. What I can do is understand what racism truly is. As the prominent author Scott Woods wrote: “The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know it, like it, or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another.”

I am deeply saddened, horrified, and angered by the murder of George Floyd. This barbaric act highlights the continued inequities that exist in America. The video footage circulated online, depicting the police officer’s knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, while he stated he couldn’t breathe, while he asked for relief, while he cried out for his mother, is an assault to our senses and to our mental health. It creates a new layer of trauma on top of the many, cumulative layers that already exist for black and brown people in our country. And so, despite my reaction, I will not make the mistake of thinking we all experience his death in the same way.

I will also not make the mistake of thinking that there is nothing we can do during this painful time in our country. We can create safe spaces for our black and brown friends, colleagues, and clients to speak their truth. We can listen, and more deeply understand the feelings and experiences of others. We can follow and learn from leaders of color in our community, in our state, and in our nation. We can advocate to change our broken institutions. We can be allies, every moment of every day, in our personal lives, family lives, and professional lives.

We can also recognize that our work at MHA allows us to create an environment where hope, healing and calm can exist for those who need it most. We can strive to break down barriers, create access, fight back against ignorance, and refuse to accept apathy. We can continue to examine our own policies and practices, and those which are imposed upon us by regulatory agencies, to ensure that they do not perpetuate institutional racism. We can be empathic, compassionate, and expert gatekeepers who do not block anyone’s path to health and wellness. We can focus on the we, for we are so much more powerful together.

Please know that during this terrible time I am committed to all of us speaking our truth, offering empathy, and listening compassionately. If we can do anything to support your process of self care, or to strengthen our MHA community in the spirit of the work we are blessed to do, please don’t hesitate to say it. I know that each of you contributes to this place, our MHA community, through sharing your talents and expertise, your care and your compassion. And so, I offer you sincere thanks for who you are and all you do.