The Time is Always Right To Do What is Right

We are heartbroken and deeply troubled about the events that happened this weekend in Charlottesville, Va. Like many of you, we have no tolerance for the blatant display of racism by a group of white supremacists that triggered the violence that followed. We work for justice in our communities, for inclusion in our service, and to broaden access to resources for everyone. Many of us felt our own efforts come undone by these events a few states over – a painful recognition that racism is still all-too-alive, that there is not enough leadership for the tolerance and inclusion work that still needs to be done, and that color of our skin, not the content of our character, still too often determines a person’s opportunity.

Nonprofits are at the forefront of this work: healing communities, promoting anti-racism and inclusion initiatives, and leading the equality and equity work in our state. We are champions for diversity and inclusion in serving our clients and the community, and we must remain committed to the belief that every person belongs in our community, that they deserve love and understanding, and resources – such as education, nutrition, art, and health care – should flow freely to all segments of society. We must do all that we can as a sector to continue to lead through all the ways we work together, collaborate on projects, and collectively understand that we are stronger together. This weekend’s events are an alarming reminder that there is. Still. So. Much. To. Do.

Many of the nonprofit leaders I have talked to have expressed a desire to be even more explicit in their commitment to this work – to stand vigil, to be clear in their convictions, to be a symbol for inclusion in our state. There was a vigil last night, and people could stand outside their houses in communal protest to these acts. There were at least a few candles in the windows in houses in my neighborhood. Other vigils and community conversations are currently being planned throughout Oklahoma. I’d encourage every nonprofit in Oklahoma to use their own social media pages in a way that is appropriate to them, to express their frustrations, think critically about these events, and remain true to their own core values – commitments to the diversities of race, ethnicity, religion, and so many more.

There are many good resources floating around social media right now for how we as organizations and individuals can respond. If you need to jump-start your creative thinking, the Southern Poverty Law Center has an article on “Ten Ways to fight Hate” as well as resources on how each of us can seek justice. If you know of other resources, I encourage you to submit those to us, so that we may share with our network.

On Oct. 3, the Center convenes our annual Members’ Meeting. We’d planned to focus on the many ways nonprofit organizations lead diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in our state. We had no idea – truly – when we picked the theme that it would become such a critically important and current topic. We’re assembling a panel of people who can give us some direction on how we can, as a sector, continue to work together in this effort. On that list of panelists is Danné Johnson, Professor of Law at Oklahoma City University, and Jabar Shumate, Vice President at The University of Oklahoma, to name a few. We’d encourage every member to join us for this nearly free event and to continue to stay engaged as we continue to address this topic in seminars and classes throughout the year. To find out more, stay tuned in to our website or sign up for our newsletter. We will focus a year-long effort to further equip the nonprofit sector in Oklahoma with skills and understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion.

There is, as already mentioned, much to celebrate about the work nonprofits already do, and still. So. Much. To. Do.

Janetta Cravens, M. Div.

Vice President of Programs

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