Becoming More Anti-Racist

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Our goal of supporting safe and healthy housing cannot be achieved without justice and liberation for all. Ending white supremacy and racial injustice – in our communities and in our nonprofits – is critical. Black lives matter.

In a recent webinar, ReFrame Association staff and members talked about ways that home repair programs can support the Black Lives Matter Movement and become more diverse and inclusive. Here are some of the ideas that were discussed:

Make a public statement. It's not enough to only make a statement, but if you don't make a statement, people may assume that your organization doesn’t value Black lives.

Sample statements: Appalachia Service ProjectHabitat for HumanityMountain T.O.P., Sierra Service Project, and YouthWorks (video).  

Take steps to make serving with your organization safer for people of color, such as informing volunteers ahead of time of the culture of the community they will be serving, and explicitly stating that it's okay to leave the worksite if they don't feel safe. Educate volunteers about the history of racism in the community they are serving, in addition to providing information and historical context about the poverty in the area.

Set norms as part of volunteer expectations and use the process of mutual invitation. Provide tools for how to listen to each other.

Inform homeowners that volunteers serving on their property may come from diverse backgrounds and that they are expected to treat everyone respectfully. Require clients to remove confederate flags while volunteers are working.

Train your staff and board about dismantling racism.

Hire a person of color to consult with your organization on becoming more anti-racist. Train temporary, seasonal employees in addition to full-time, year-round staff.

Organize a book club for your staff, board, and/or volunteer leaders, and purchase the books from a Black-owned bookstore instead of Amazon.

Suggested books for White-led organizations: White Fragility: Why It's So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism, and Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor (28-day program of developing self-awareness).

Work toward having more people of color on your board and staff, and as volunteers.

If your organization serves only in communities where it might not be comfortable or safe for people of color to volunteer, consider partnering with other organizations in locations that are more diverse so that you can provide safer volunteer opportunities. Or - help people serve their own community. We recognize that there is value in cross-cultural experiences, but the first priority should be ensuring everyone’s safety.

Consider partnering with Historically Black Colleges & Universities and other diverse organizations. Invite these partners to serve on advisory board and to help plan volunteer events.

Measure and track information about volunteers' and homeowners' race and economic status without being invasive.

Disclose salary ranges in all job announcements. Here's why.

For camp-model nonprofits: Offer a scholarship fund to allow more people of color to volunteer. Also, increase summer staff salaries to allow those with less means to be able to afford to work with the organization.

For locally-based organizations: Provide an easy way for those without a lot of free time to volunteer. Offer a "volunteer cafe" a few days a week (including some evening/weekend hours) during which volunteers can show up (no pre-registration required) and choose from a menu of service options that have been prepared in advance: office work, organizing warehouse materials, building stair stringers, etc. 

This is not an exhaustive list. We welcome additional suggestions about how home repair nonprofits can be more anti-racist. Email becca@reframeassociation.org to add to this conversation.