Dismantling structural and systemic racism has been an urgent, critical necessity in this country for hundreds of years – and yet Black people and persons of color still suffer injustice, fight against impossible and shifting standards, and lose their lives in response to outrageous and pernicious racism every single day. Black people are often denied employment, medical treatment, and loans (or are given high interest rates), and are seen as a threat when they voice their concerns or cry out for help, fairness and equality on the state and federal levels. As a housing provider, we are all too aware of the myriad ways racist housing policies have negatively impacted every level of people’s lives across generations.

How we respond today as individuals, as an organization, and as a nation will define our place in history and our course forward. Our commitment to unity in combating racism and fighting for equality is stronger than ever; injustice and discrimination in all forms cannot be allowed to prevail. Together with the world, we mourn the loss of George Floyd, and the many Black men and women that we have lost before him. We stand with those demanding justice for the violence against them, and we join the fight to end systemic racism, police violence, and oppression.

EDEN is currently working to incorporate a specific, actionable focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in our strategic plan moving forward, including the implementation of training regarding unconscious bias and other forms of education for every member of our agency. We know we have much work to do as an organization to develop a culture of racial equity, and we are committed to doing that work.

Taking apart a racist system requires across-the-board changes to the distribution of power in our society, as well as the active participation of every person with power bestowed to them because they are white. At EDEN, we recognize our power as an institution that provides housing services to vulnerable people, particularly because one way in which racism has been built into the structures of our society over generations is through discriminatory housing practices. We aim to be thoughtful, deliberate and impactful in our role in actively dismantling racist systems. To do so, we look to the voices and perspectives of Black people.

From Ibram X. Kendi, professor and the director of The Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University: “Americans should be asking: Why are so many unarmed black people being killed by police while armed white people are simply arrested? Why are officials addressing violent crime in poorer neighborhoods by adding more police instead of more jobs? Why are black (and Latino) people during this pandemic less likely to be working from home; less likely to be insured; more likely to live in trauma-care deserts, lacking access to advanced emergency care; and more likely to live in polluted neighborhoods? The answer is what the Frederick Hoffmans of today refuse to believe: racism.”