The Community Relations and Racial Equity Committee was formed in spring 2019 with the following assignments from the NOBL board:
– Conducting a power analysis of the neighborhood (education, health, law enforcement, economics, environment, culture/religion); report back, guide work.
– Acquiring funds to engage Black Demographics or similar to provide a detailed demographic profile of our neighborhood; report back, guide work.
– Preliminary discussions of outreach, engagement and neighborhood decision making to provide recommendations for subsequent board conversations on those topics.
– Reaching out to additional entities such as Riverside Middle and Union High School, as well as businesses in the neighborhood to build relationships and raise funds.
– Preparing to make additional impacts at City Hall by proposing policy positions for the organization to the board and advocating on those that are approved.
The committee chair is Robin Benton, a NOBL board member who also runs the Undoing Racism Grand Rapids Facebook page. While the group originally met in person (with important meeting highlights available here), we are currently trying an online version; anyone can join the Racial Equity Committee group on Facebook.
The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB) Anti-Racist Principles:
As a society, we often believe that individuals and/or their communities are solely responsible for their conditions. Through the analysis of institutional power, we can identify and unpack the systems external to the community that create the internal realities that many people experience daily.
Anti-racist leadership needs to be developed intentionally and systematically within local communities and organizations.
Persons who work in institutions often function as gatekeepers to ensure that the institution perpetuates itself. By operating with anti-racist values and networking with those who share those values and maintaining accountability in the community, the gatekeeper becomes an agent of institutional transformation.
Identifying and Analyzing Manifestations of Racism
Individual acts of racism are supported by institutions and are nurtured by the societal practices such as militarism and cultural racism, which enforce and perpetuate racism.
Learning from History
History is a tool for effective organizing. Understanding the lessons of history allows us to create a more humane future.
To organize with integrity requires that we be accountable to the communities struggling with racist oppression.
Culture is the life support system of a community. If a community’s culture is respected and nurtured, the community’s power will grow.
Undoing Internalized Racial Oppression
Internalized Racial Oppression manifests itself in two forms:
Internalized Racial Inferiority
The acceptance of and acting out of an inferior definition of self, given by the oppressor, is rooted in the historical designation of one’s race. Over many generations, this process of disempowerment and disenfranchisement expresses itself in self-defeating behaviors.
Internalized Racial Superiority
The acceptance of and acting out of a superior definition is rooted in the historical designation of one’s race. Over many generations, this process of empowerment and access expresses itself as unearned privileges, access to institutional power and invisible advantages based upon race.
Racism is the single most critical barrier to building effective coalitions for social change. Racism has been consciously and systematically erected, and it can be undone only if people understand what it is, where it comes from, how it functions, and why it is perpetuated.
NOBL’s public safety and neighborhood leadership development activities are a City of Grand Rapids Community Development-funded Program.