Safe+Sound Somerset is committed to anti-racism and stands with the black community. Our efforts to foster a culture of acceptance in our society include first recognizing that if we are not working to fight racism, then we are complicit in the oppressive systems in place.
We are not only committed to declaring our support of anti-racist movements, but to building an organizational culture that exemplifies one of inclusion, open dialogue, and acceptance. To this end, we have instituted listening circles as an opportunity for staff members to come together and speak freely about their feelings and experiences with racism. Focused staff meetings encourage collaboration that encourages participants to propose ideas to bring about change in our immediate community and beyond, and then to discuss the ways these changes can actually be implemented.
S+SS has created an anti-racism committee to explore the origin of racism and help staff members improve their understanding of this history and issue. The committee is made up of staff members with a wide variety of experiences. One of the committee’s first tasks was to design a survey to assess each staff member’s experience and understanding of racism, and to give members an opportunity to report on their perspective of our organization’s understanding, culture, and attitudes as it relates to racism. The survey was compiled from several research-based sources and includes questions specific to our organization. The survey will be distributed to our staff members and members of the S+SS Board of Trustees the second week of September. It will be completely anonymous to gather perspectives from all stakeholders and result in an honest assessment that allows us to construct a comprehensive plan going forward. The results will be reviewed by the committee and the executive director. The committee will then seek an outside trainer to review the results and create a training program based on the survey’s findings to meet the needs of our staff and our community.
Safe+Sound Somerset has also reached out to community partners, such as the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, regarding our commitment to ending social injustice, dismantling all forms of prejudice and racism in our formal systems leading to a fair and equitable treatment for all. Finally, we plan to reach out to other members of the community we serve to ensure that we are thoroughly addressing its diverse needs.
The anti-racism committee is working diligently to eliminate racism at Safe+Sound Somerset, and looks forward to a day in the near future when all our staff and clients experience inclusion, open dialogue, and acceptance.