The Night Ministry is taking steps to realize racial equity in its day-to-day operations, a process which involves becoming an anti-racist organization.
The agency's mission makes it imperative for The Night Ministry to take these steps, said Chief of Staff Traci Rivera.
"We have a social responsibility to move things forward. Systemic racism and inequities are major factors in homelessness," she said. "If we want to reach a place where homelessness is ended, we need to work to make sure that opportunities are available and equitable for everyone, and that work starts here within the agency."
Rivera serves on The Night Ministry's Racial Equity Task Force, which is helping guide the organization through the process. The task force is made up of employees from across the agency, as well as the Chair of the Board of Directors, Kiantae Bowles.
Congregational Engagement Manager Brittany Caine-Conley, the task force's co-chair, said becoming anti-racist requires the recognition of the myriad of ways that racial inequity is embedded into society.
"It is a proactive stance, and it has to do with the choices that we make daily. It's different than saying, 'I'm not racist,' because that doesn't acknowledge the reality around us, that many of our institutions and systems are rooted in white cultural dominance," she said.
Operationalizing anti-racism involves having open, honest, and often difficult conversations, as well as workshops and consultations with outside partners.
"It requires that as an organization we take a deep dive into our policies, our culture, and how we operate," said Caine-Conley. "We need to illuminate ways that we are not living up to who we want to be in terms of racial equity."
Departments within The Night Ministry, including administrative units and those which provide services to clients, are working with the task force to develop goals to foster racial equity. The commitment to racial equity and anti-racism is also part of the strategic planning process in which The Night Ministry is currently engaged, which will deliver a roadmap for the agency to follow in the coming years.
"It's definitely difficult, but I think anything that is worthwhile is not always going to come easy," said Rivera. "It's not a fast process and really it will never be done. There will always be ways to improve."